Down to wire
Saturday, 5th March, 2011
With their record this season standing at two wins apiece from the four occasions that they have met, this finals series seems certain to be a very even and a hard-fought series.
The ball has ruled the bat in the local cricket competition this season and there is no reason to expect this series of games will be any different.
The side whose batsmen are best capable of keeping their heads down and building partnerships will ultimately triumph in the end.
The 50-over format of the finals enables batsmen to take a more reserved approach to their batting, however most local batsmen seem more interested in getting on and scoring their runs quickly rather than pacing their innings.
North lifted for the Semi Final against West last weekend after a few disappointing efforts after the Christmas break and have the decided edge in finals’ experience.
Tobias Hack and Codie Howard held the North batting together last weekend and will need to repeat the dose if the Bulldogs are to the win their third consecutive premiership or, at least, are to go to a third and deciding final next weekend.
Runs from Nick Pearce would help their cause as he is sadly out of sorts with the bat after a good 2009/10 season. Greater contributions from the openers would also give the Bulldog batting greater impetus.
The North bowling has carried the season for them. Chris Mitchell, Nick Pearce and Codie Howard have all enjoyed excellent seasons with the ball while Jake Napier, Jed Watson and Matt Garrick have lent valuable support.
All these bowlers will need to continue their good form with perhaps Matt Garrick proving to be the ‘X’ factor with his off spinners on a deck that has been conducive to spin all season.
Central’s improvement this season can be pinpointed to their more professional approach to the game and the improvement in the upper end of their batting.
Cam Wells and Matt Jardine have given the Magpies several good starts with the bat this season and this has taken the pressure off the likes of Jarred Paull, Justin Netherwood in the balance of the middle order.
The return to the side of Simon Pedretti will stiffen the Central middle order even further. Veteran Paul Rosenbaum’s return has also given the Magpies greater variety in the bowling attack and enabled them to apply more scoring pressure on opposition sides.
The development of young off spinner Adam Armstrong has also added another dimension to the Central bowling line-up while these bowlers have been well supported by the Paull brothers who also provide fire and variety to what is a pretty good combination.
Based on exposed form this season, I will be very surprised if the third and deciding final is not required next week to separate these two teams.
Consistency has been neither side’s greatest attribute over the season, particularly in batting.
I can see this final sitting at one win apiece at the end tomorrow, setting up next Saturday as the cut-throat decider and providing a great curtain closer on what has been a very good season of cricket.