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Handberg, Attard boost Robins’ line-up

Saturday, 1st March, 2014

Matt Hanberg makes a welcome return to West in today’s “do or die” match with North. PICTURE: Darrin Manuel Matt Hanberg makes a welcome return to West in today’s “do or die” match with North. PICTURE: Darrin Manuel

By Square Leg

West and North do battle at the Alma Oval today in the Barrier District Cricket League Preliminary Final.

The winner will earn the right to play an undefeated Central in next week’s final. For the loser it will be a case of folding the creams away in mothballs until next season.

Up until last weekend, West looked odds-on to meet Central in a replay of last season’s final.

However, a shock win to the Bulldogs threw a lot more interest into today’s contest, particularly given the fact that North were able to record a well-deserved victory without their key batsmen Codie Howard and Tobias Hack worrying the scorers.

Both are big occasion players and can be expected to step up to the plate today.

West can also be expected to improve a lot from last week. The return of Paul Attard and Matt Handberg makes a huge difference to their batting and bowling stocks and gives them that much-needed experience that is essential come finals time.

Attard, despite his veteran status, is still arguably the most penetrative bowler in town and his reputation has been built around some herculean finals performances.

Handberg is the complete cricketer. A good bat at the top of the order, he also offers the West bowling attack much-needed variety with his leggies.

For North to repeat last week’s effort they will again need Mick Morritz to fire with the bat and both Codie Howard and Tobias Hack to lend support.

Hack’s form with the bat has been too poor to be true in recent times and he has the opportunity to play his most valuable innings of the season today.

A score of anything under 200 will present little challenge for the Robins and the Bulldogs will need somewhere near 250 runs to feel that they are in with a chance.

To achieve this they must see off the early overs of Scott Withers, Attard and at the same time not get sucked in by Handberg’s loop.

The West batting has not been ultra-consistent this season. Max Everuss has been the most consistent with the willow and several other players have made one or two good scores along the way.

West need at least three or four players to record good scores today to make their journey to next week’s final certain.

Andrew Henry is due for a score after returning from a broken finger while Curtis Jelbert has had a fairly inconsistent season by his normally high standards.

McEvoy, Jordan Vella and Lachie Harvey did the damage with the ball for the Bulldogs last week and an even better effort will be required from this trio if they are to restrict West to a losing score.

The return of Attard and Handberg looks to give West far greater strike power and stability.

The Robins have been the second best team in the competition all season and I expect them to stamp their authority on this game and give themselves an opportunity next week to avenge their loss to Central in last season’s final.

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