By Mark Heenan
Fourth-placed Ocean Grove A Grade was a solid performer across the first half of 2017/18.
A top-four finals spot beckons for Grubbers in the expanded 12-team A Grade competition format.
Ocean Grove came close to playing in a grand final last season after a thrilling tie against the higher ranked Collendina and saw eventual premier the Cobras play off in a decider.
Last season’s BPCA semi-finalists have won three games this season with wins over Queenscliff in Round 1, Portarlington in Round 3 and Little River in Round 4.
It was unfortunate that Ocean Grove’s away clash against undefeated Anglesea in Round 5 resulted in a draw due to rain.
The Grubbers are the only side to take to bowl out Anglesea this season.
When Ocean Grove wins it demolishes its opposition, the Grubbers have chased outright results against Little River and Portarlington.
Expect Ocean Grove to have a major bearing on the top four finals make-up.
The Grubbers clash against cross-town rivals Collendina will be a cracker in Round 9 and could determine the club’s top four chances.
WHAT HAS WORKED
The Grubbers have batting depth with coach Paul Jubber, gun middle-order Michael Kenneady and Huon Bertino leading the charge.
Add dynamic new recruit in Sam Jubber, younger brother of Paul Jubber, and Ocean Grove has some serious firepower with the bat.
The consistency of Bertino, Kenneady and Paul Jubber is a cornerstone to club success.
Ocean Grove posted its highest A Grade score in nine seasons against Little River in Round 4 thanks to an unbeaten 167 not out from Michael Kenneady.
After missing the first two A Grade games, left arm speedster Dan Roddis is in career best form after taking 17 wickets from only four games.
Roddis has been dominant when the Grubbers have chased outright results in games.
Sam Jubber is a key player with bat and especially ball if he plays to his best and injury free look out opposition teams.
The Grubbers are always competitive in games even when they lose.
Defeats to Drysdale and more recently Barwon Heads in Round 6 at Ray Menzies Memorial Oval saw the home side in winning positions at stages in both games.
A serious contender for the A Grade title if the Grubbers play to their best.
Ocean Grove has depth across all grades and in a strong position to claim the BPCA’s prized Club Championship at season end. Ocean Grove A, B, C and D Grades are all in the top four. A very strong club.
WHAT HAS NOT WORKED
Over reliance on its all-rounders including Grubber recruit Sam Jubber, Paul Jubber and Jackson Kent to bowl a majority of overs.
Both Jubbers and Jackson Kent have combined for more than 200 overs this season.
Kent, who bats in the top six, is Ocean Grove’s most used bowler this season and has bowled more than 70 overs.
A quad injury to Sam Jubber on day one in the back-to-back two-day game against Drysdale spoiled the Grubbers’ chances of a win against the Hawks over the same weekend.
Sam Jubber’s batting was restricted against Drysdale, the next day he was unable to bowl because of injury.
One positive Lindon Giuffrida claimed a five-wicket haul before Christmas in Ocean Grove B Grade and appears set to earn a recall in the new year.
Giuffrida will add depth to the Grubbers’ fast bowling stocks.
The Grubbers will be hoping to get more overs out of Roddis, Giuffrida and where needed spinner Thomas Kent in the new year.
While Paul Jubber is Ocean Grove leading A Grade run scorer after six games and arguably one of the league’s best bats, he is batting far too low in the order.
Jubber, who has only had four hits in 2017-18, has either batted at number 6 or 7 this season, he needs to bat in the top 4 or 5.
315 runs at 157.50
7 wickets at 33.43
255 runs at 85
198 runs at 49.50
17 wickets at 14.41
ROUND 7: Inverleigh (away)
ROUND 8: Winchelsea (home)
ROUND 9: Collendina (away)
ROUND 10: Jan Juc (home)
ROUND 11: Barrabool (away)
“We have been happy with our form prior to Christmas, but we really feel our best cricket is ahead of us. Top four spots will be tight at the end of the season, so we will need to continue to improve and play strong team oriented cricket.”
– Ocean Grove Cricket Club coach Paul Jubber