The Victorian Premier Cricket and the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association seasons will return for the first time in the new year on Saturday. Star Weekly sports reporter Lance Jenkinson checks out how your team is shaping up entering the home stretch.

Footscray (Premier)

Story so far:

An overwhelmingly positive start to the season has Footscray in the race for not only a finals berth, but a top four finish.

The Bulldogs have played out their fair share of dramatic finishes but came out on the right side more often than not.

Player to watch: Captain Dylan Kight has blasted 462 runs at an average of 77 and turning in a game-changing score every other week. Kight has been impressive with his wicketkeeping with 11 catches, two stumpings and a run out.

The run home: A dream home stretch should see Footscray installed as favourites in each of their five games before finals.

They will start with Greenvale Kangaroos (17th) in a two-day game at Merv Hughes Oval starting Saturday, followed by Casey-South Melbourne (18th, away), Melbourne University (eighth, home), Kingston-Hawthorn (16th, away) and Melbourne (13th, home).

Altona (Sub-district)

Story so far: The A’s sit on the middle rungs of the ladder, but still only a game outside the top six. A lack of consistency is a concern, so, too, is the inability to claim a top six scalp.

Player to watch: Altona is ranked dead last for runs made and desperately need a batsman to stand up in the last five matches.

Import wicketkeeper-batsman Charlie Best could be that player. After a slow start, Best has produced 56 in each of his past two matches.

The run home: Altona probably has the toughest run home of any side in the competition. Four of the A’s last five games will be against top six opposition.

The A’s run starts with Brunswick (fourth, away) on Saturday, followed by Preston (11th, home), Melton (first, away), Williamstown (fifth, home) and Plenty Valley (second, away).

Williamstown (Sub-district)

Story so far: Williamstown was in pole position after six rounds, but a pre-Christmas glitch saw it tumble down the ladder to fifth.

It was more likely a blip than a trend for the Seagulls, who are still expected to be in the thick of the action at the pointy end.

Player to watch: Player-coach Dale McDonald is one of the hottest bats in the competition with five half centuries from seven innings, including 98 not out against Melton. The third-ranked batsman in the league has 397 runs at 79.4 and has chipped in with a handy five wickets at 26.

The run home: The final five rounds will feature three two-day games – a format they are undefeated in this season. They start with a one-day blockbuster against Plenty Valley (second, home) on Saturday, followed by
St Bernard’s (ninth, away), Ivanhoe (sixth, home), Altona (eighth, away), Hoppers Crossing (12th, home).

Yarraville (Sub-district)

Story so far: After a slow start, Yarraville finally built up a head of steam to be knocking on the door of the top six.

Player to watch: Wicketkeeper-batsman Joe Billings rarely fails at the crease, making 286 runs at 47.7. Billings is one of the leading wicketkeepers in the league with eight catches, two stumpings and three run outs.

The run home: In-form Yarraville should be primed and ready to pounce on a top six position, but it will not be easy.

They start with Kew (third, away) on Saturday, followed by Plenty Valley (second, home), Werribee (10th, away), St Bernard’s (ninth, home) and Taylors Lakes (13th, away).