All on the line
Saturday, 9th March, 2019
By Tyler Hannigan
Minor premiers and defending champions North take on Central today in the A Grade grand final, a rematch of last season’s decider.
Last time they met:
Central 4 for 166 (A. Rhodes 59, J. Paull 30*, T. Smith 29*; C. Howard 2-23) def North 9 for 161 (M. Letcher 35, L. Larkins 29; D. O’Mally 3-27, S. Mateer 3-31) by six wickets
The Magpies hold the one and only win over North for the 2018/19 season which came in round 12 at the Jubilee Oval. Central chased down a challenging 161 with ease as Adam Rhodes’ 59 off 60 balls led the way.
With the ball, both skipper David O’Mally and Scott Mateer claimed three wickets for the Magpies.
North - WLWWW
That round 12 loss was the one blemish in an otherwise stellar season for the Bulldogs that saw them win 12 matches from 13 games and most of them coming in commanding fashion.
Most recently they enjoyed heavy wins over West by 118 runs in round 13, seven wickets against South in round 14 and by six wickets against West again in round 15.
That round 15 clash saw Eddie Morgan play a starring role as he claimed 4-6 off seven overs before scoring 56 not out to lead North to victory.
Central - WLWLW
Central are coming off a pair of thrilling encounters against South, losing by one wicket in round 15 before holding on for an incredibly tight win in last weekend’s semi-final.
Their experienced bats had to stand up last Saturday and they did just that as Jarred Paull top scored with an unbeaten 72. He was well supported by Rhodes’ 45 and Tristen Smith’s 34 as the Magpies made 5-206 from their 40 overs.
South gave the chase an almighty crack, even somewhat being in control at 4-155 with 10 overs to go, but Central were able to hold their nerve and eventually eke out a four-run win to qualify for today’s final.
North - T. Hack (c), B. Bergman, M. Letcher, E. Morgan, C. Howard, J. Vella, J. Savage, N. Mitchell, K. McEvoy, T. Davey, M. Garrick (12th), E. Thomas (13th)
North have had a settled side all season and haven’t been forced into too many changes. Morgan’s appearances have been limited but he’s made impact with 92 runs and five wickets in total.
Central - D. O’Mally (c), T. Smith, D. Pettitt, A. Rhodes, J. Paull, R. Elvery, S. Mateer, L. Neal, M. Maalste, J. Joliffe, R. Casey, P. Jenkinson (12th)
Central have made just the one change from their semi-final winning side with in-form batsman Josh Joliffe replacing Adam Armstrong. Joliffe scored a century in B Grade a few weeks ago before making 46 and 18 in his last two A Grade innings.
Codie Howard - North
Howard’s 2018/19 season is one of the best all-around performances that Broken Hill cricket has seen in recent memory. He led the competition’s run scoring with 367 runs from 11 innings including three half-centuries and only one score below 20.
As well as his performance with the bat, Howard’s medium-fast bowling claimed 25 wickets at an incredible average of just 6.39 and best figures of 6-2 off three overs against West in round two, one of his two six-wicket hauls.
While the Dogs lineup contains a host of quality batsman, Howard remains the prized wicket and that will again be the case today.
Jarred Paull - Central
If Howard is North’s most important player then the same goes for Paull at Central. He’s long been a match-winner for the side, especially in crunch games, and was at his best in last weekend’s semi-final.
Paull made a fantastic unbeaten 72 last week, guiding the Magpies to 5-206 off their 40 overs, before taking 1-10 off four overs to swing the game back in Central’s favour after South had wrestled the momentum.
It’s been an interesting season for Paull who has 398 runs at an average of 49.75 including a top score of 112 in round six. He was a little inconsistent by his high standards early on but since round nine has only been dismissed once for fewer than 26 runs.
Central needed their big three batsmen - Paull, Rhodes and Smith - to stand up if they were to beat South and the trio did just that by scoring 151 out of Central’s 206 total.
It will need to be the same today if the Magpies are any chance of overcoming this North side who boast an incredibly talented batting lineup.
Bill Bergman has starred at the top of the order this season since returning to A Grade cricket and he’s been well supported by Matt Letcher but it’s North’s middle order where it gets scary for Central.
Morgan, Dan ter Braak and Howard form the spine and with skipper Tobias Hack likely to come in at number six, there’s no let up for the Central bowlers. Throw in the likes of Josh Savage and Jordan Vella and it’s a very deep batting lineup for Broken Hill cricket.
Central’s pace bowlers - Michael Maalste, Ross Casey, Luke Neal and Dave O’Mally - will need to be at the top of their game and, depending on the pitch, spinner Scott Mateer could play an important role.
Central showed they still have the talent to get the job done last week but the question is, did they played their grand final a week early?
On the other hand, North are favourites to go back-to-back after a stellar season however strange things can happen in finals.
WHAT: A Grade Grand Final
WHEN: Today, 12:30pm
WHERE: Alma Oval