Matt makes mark
Wednesday, 16th November, 2011
By John Casey
Reigning Barrier District Cricket League champions Central believe they can overcome a slow start to the season and still be a contender for the 2011-12 premiership.
If the Magpies are to claim back-to-back titles a lot of responsibility rests on the shoulders of opening batsman Matt Jardine, who returned to form in round five as Central easily accounted for a depleted South line-up.
“West and North are both travelling well at the moment but it is still early in the season and we haven’t had our best line-up together as yet,” Jardine said.
“We have definitely got the talent and the belief after last year’s success and expect to make a run at the finals.”
Against South on Saturday Jardine blazed his way to an unbeaten 48 which included seven boundaries, but said he wasn’t getting too carried away with his form.
“I still have a lot of work to do,” the North BH Public School Year 6 teacher explained.
“Both my best efforts with the bat this season have come against South who aren’t the strongest bowling attack, so I need to be able to produce a good knock against West and North,” he added.
Jardine will get that chance on Saturday when Central confronts the Robins, looking for redemption after they were soundly defeated by West on the opening day of the season.
“Being at the top of the order it is my responsibility to set the tone for the other batsmen so I’ll be looking to do that against West this weekend.
Having the time to settle in at the crease is part of the reason why Jardine prefers the 45-over format ahead of the rapid fire Twenty/20 fixtures.
“The shorter form of the game can get frantic and as an opener you are conscious of not stifling the innings as you look to get set,” Jardine said.
“One of the good things about opening the batting is that you are always guaranteed of getting a hit - although if you have spent a long, hot day in the field sometimes it isn’t perfect.”
Jardine, who learnt the game from his father Bob, said he always prefers to take strike and face the first ball of the innings.
“I’m not sure why, but I have always done it,” he said.
“Sometimes you might get a loose delivery from the first ball of the day which presents an opportunity to get off the mark in easy fashion, but I’ve also been dismissed a few times off the first ball of the innings.”
Last week against South it was the former, with Jardine square cutting a “loosener” from Lawrence Hebbard to the boundary to open his account. The Magpies lost Cam Wells early, but with help from Jarrod Paull, Jardine was able to steer his team to a nine-wicket win.
Exactly how Central’s opening pair of Jardine and skipper Cam Wells formed their now regular partnership is an interesting sidebar.
Both are school teachers who hail from Newcastle but the pair didn’t know one another prior to moving to BH despite playing in the same competition earlier in their careers.
“I played A Grade cricket with Southern Lakes (now Toronto) in the Newcastle area and Cam was in the same competition but we never met,” Jardine explained.
“But we have become very close since moving to Broken Hill - our wives are friends, we have kids around the same age and we enjoy a similar approach to the game.”
Born in Mildura, 34-year-old Jardine played much of his junior cricket on synthetic wickets so he relishes the turf pitches in Broken Hill.
“The Alma Oval pitch was fantastic on the weekend and is a credit to the staff who look after it,” Jardine said.