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The forecast? A tight tussle

Saturday, 12th January, 2013

Justin Heath will be a pivotal player for the Magpies in season 2013. Justin Heath will be a pivotal player for the Magpies in season 2013.

By Newcomer

The much-anticipated return of local cricket comes this weekend and already the league has its problems fighting against Mother Nature.

The heat policy states that at 43 degrees or above all senior cricket games will be cancelled but today’s forecast is for 40 so Central will be playing North at the Jubilee Oval in a one-day fixture.

This promises to be a very close encounter. Both teams are locked in second position on 30 points, chasing tearaway leaders West, and are destined to meet in the first final.

With 9 rounds gone, and 6 remaining, the Magpies and the Bulldogs will be seeking to gain ascendancy over their counterparts as the latter half of the season progresses.

To be honest, both sides have been carried this season by the stars of their sides, and the first side that gains a more consistent balance with both bat and ball will be the most competitive come finals time.

The stars in question, who were simply brilliant prior to the Christmas break, were Central’s Jarred Paull (424 runs at 106 average) Cameron Wells (254 runs at 36) and for North they were capably led by Tobias Hack (237 runs at 39) and Chris Mitchell (19 wickets)

Surprisingly, not one Central bowler features in the top 6, and this is one area that they must improve on as they search for a wicket-taking bowler, or two, to stand up and lead the way.

Onto the game, and the first game back has both teams understrength with Central’s Wells, Rosenbaum and Rhodes still enjoying teachers holidays, whilst for North, they will be without the services of Pearce, Morgan, Staker and Vella.

Central’s captain Jarred Paull has compiled runs with monotonous ease, and on a regular basis, against all teams, and he looks to be the stumbling block, or the key factor in whoever wins this game.

Without Wells, more emphasis will be put on Jarred’s wicket, and without putting too much pressure on him it will be his innings which will dictate the outcome of this match.

Justin Heath has been around long enough to realise what is needed at this level, and with a quiet start to the season, I’m expecting a huge turn around with the bat.

Both Jarred and Justin look to be the mainstay of the Central innings and someone needs to play a supporting role to this pair in the middle order.

As important as Paull’s contribution, the same can be said of North captain Tobias Hack when it comes to North’s turn to bat. By Hack’s own admission, his season has been topsy turvy, with good scores, littered with failures, and he must be wanting more consistency to take his batting to the next level. On his day he is a match winner.

There is no bigger match winner than Codie Howard, who has the ability to tear a game apart, and he must get more games under his belt to ease the pressure on Hack, and with the return of Tim Hunter, North’s batting looks a lot more even and capable of sharing the run spread.

The evergreen Chris Mitchell continues to wreak havoc with the new ball and is a much underestimated campaigner, and with his nagging line and length, his wicket-taking ability is amazing.

With the heat, you would expect that none of the bowlers will be required to bowl long spells, and it will be a matter of taking your chances when the opportunity arises.

On the back of a Central captain Jarred Paull’s winning knock, Central should get the points and claim outright second position on the ladder, which doesn’t really count for much as North and Central will be matching off in the more important first final.

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