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Grand Final one to relish

Saturday, 10th March, 2012

POWER: The big hitting of Adam Rhodes could be a key. POWER: The big hitting of Adam Rhodes could be a key.

By Square Leg

The Barrier District Cricket League draws the curtain on its 2011/12 cricket season with the start of its Grand Final series of games today after a lost weekend to rain last weekend.

The A Grade Final at the Alma Oval will be a replay of the 2010/11 Grand Final between West and Central. 

Once again the weather has played a part in the Finals series but the League has seen fit to extend the Finals to six available days this season in which to complete the best of three 50 over contests. 

The A Grade Final has a 10am start with a 40-minute break taken for lunch during the change of innings.

Pre-Christmas form suggested that minor premiers West would have been raging hot favourites to take out the flag but some indifferent form after the Christmas break and some major improvement has seen Central level up the betting.

Not unlike last season’s Final, it is shaping up as a great contest. 

The Final is predicted to get to the third and deciding game as neither side appears to have had the consistency since the Christmas break to win consecutive games.

There are plenty of ifs and buts about the performance of both sides. The West batting relies heavily on Rhys Harding making a large score and getting good assistance from Curtis Jelbert, Nick Christos, Paul Attard and perhaps Matt Hanberg. 

Apart from Harding and Christos the remaining West batsmen have all had their moments in the sun this season but have been very inconsistent at the same time.

The West bowling attack before Christmas was brilliant but they seem to have gone off the boil a little and have lack that consistent line and length that created havoc before the long break. 

Nick Christos and Brenton Malthouse need to regain their early season form to guarantee West’s success. 

The X factor in the West bowling attack could be veteran Paul Attard. Attard has only played a handful of games this season due to work commitments, but come Grand Final time over the years he has been a inspirational leader. He tends to find an extra yard in pace in the Grand Final and you can never question his endeavour.

Central created an air of expectation for this contest with their emphatic win over North in the Elimination Final. Many would say it was not the ideal preparation for a Grand Final but the Magpies were ruthless and never let the Bulldogs into the game at any stage. 

If they take the same approach into this game cricket lovers are in for a feast of great cricket.

Not unlike West, Central’s batting has been underpinned by a couple of key players. 

Jared Paull has been the shining light with the bat and on occasions has received good support from Jardine, Wells and Rhodes. Jardine and Wells are key players for the Magpies as they are prepared to play their shots from the onset and they can set up a big tally by getting runs on the board quickly in the early overs. 

Given their natural aggression, however, they tend to be somewhat inconsistent.

The Central bowling has shown the greatest improvement since the Christmas break. Their line and length has improved out of sight and the re-inclusion of veteran Paul Rosembaum has been a huge plus. 

Rosenbaum single-handedly dismembered the North batting attack, taking a hat trick in the process, in the Elimination Final and on a similar deck this weekend he looms as a major obstacle for the West batsmen. 

Central also possess great variety in their attack with Armstrong providing good quality off spin, Shepherd good quality leg spin and the Paull Brothers fire and pace with the new ball.

As with last season’s Final, there will be many stages in this series when one side will look to be on top and then the tide will turn. 

It is this potential cut and thrust that both sides offer that makes this such an exciting contest. 

I am certain cricket lovers will be back to witness an exciting third and deciding game come the weekend after the St Patrick’s Day races. 

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