Saturday, 7th March, 2020
By Donald Trump
Grand Final action at the Alma will see the reigning back-to-back champions North, go up against this year’s minor premiers Central.
North will be looking for its third premiership in a row and Central will be looking to make amends after last year’s grand final beating at the hands of the Bulldogs ... it’s going to be a cracker.
Central, after finishing top, have had a week off which would have been welcomed by their paceman Michael Maalste as he is recovering from back soreness.
They also have the advantage of checking out North’s best squad last week as they demolished the Roos in their semi final.
The Magpies have named a very solid squad with three of the best batsmen in town: Rhodes, Paul and Smith.
They will be backed by Pettit, RV Kumar and all-rounder Mateer.
They will want to have a look at the deck after the recent rain this week, but if it’s dry, then I’d expect Central to bat first (if they win the toss), then they will be hoping to put on 200-plus.
That is what they are going to need if they are to beat Bulldogs this week.
Central do however have a bowling attack to defend a small total, Maalste (25 wickets), Mateer (21 wickets) and Omally (13 wickets) are all in the top ten bowlers in town - Maalste is currently ranked number 1.
Throw in the spin of Smith, the medium pace of Paull and the young gun Nick Devoy, and you have a very slick attack. Not forgetting Neal and Rhodes, who will no doubt be called upon, too.
They will be up against a North line-up without the best player in town, Dan ter Braak. He amassed 469 runs at an average of 47 and took 22 wickets in a stellar year for the blue and white. Also missing will be local champion Codie Howard, replaced by Mitchell.
North will be relying heavily on Hack who has scored 194 runs this year at an average of 48.50 and Carruthers 180 at 25.71.
Vella will have to put his money where his mouth is and dig deep this week with the bat and if he and his very “noisy” mate Martin can get starts, then I see the under-strength Bulldogs putting on a competitive score.
Letcher will also be looking to go on with it, taking the pressure of Hack.
Where I see North winning their third BDCL premiership is in their bowling unit. Davey (17 wickets), Wilson (14 wickets) and Vella (14 wickets) will trouble the Central boys, plus of course fellow pacemen Johnson and Mitchell, and if Savage can get the ball talking, then I think North can get across the line.
North’s fielding is also second-to-none, and they will need this confidence today as they cannot afford to give Rhodes and Paull any chances.
I don’t think the rain will play a part in the pitch as rumour has it the council magically found some “covers” and were even on the roller in between showers on Wednesday.
Cricket fans will be hoping for a deck similar to last week, in fact it was one of the best looking pitches I’ve seen for a few years.
North are surely the underdogs with their missing stars, but you know what happens if you corner an injured dog, right?
Central will still need to be on their game, and if they get early wickets then I think the lower order of the Dogs will struggle.
Players to watch: Central - Maalste and Smith. North - Johnson and Vella.