Saturday, 7th March, 2015
By Square Leg
This season’s A Grade cricket grand final to be played at the Jubilee Oval at 11am today looks to be one of the most open grand finals for a number of years.
Central has been the bench mark side all season and they are chasing their third consecutive premiership.
The Magpies narrowly won their last minor round game against West by seven runs and North came out and beat West by more than 70 runs in last weekend’s semi final - so taking a line through their most recent form, either side can win this contest.
North’s form has been a little up and down throughout the season but when they have had a full contingent of players available for selection they have been most competitive against Central and West.
Central will go into this game slight favourites based on their finals’ experience over the past few seasons but it must be remembered that players of the ilk of Jardine, Morrison and Rhodes are missing from their two previous premiership sides.
Morrison took five wickets and scored a half century in last season’s grand final.
The Magpie batting effort today will be highly dependent on major contributions from Wells, Heath and Paull.
Players such as Shepherd, Rosenbaum, Gauci and Hannon will need to make smaller contributions down the list.
Jarred Paull has had a leaner season by his lofty standards with the bat and the Magpies would love to see him return to top form today.
Like their counterparts, North relies heavily on a couple of class players to score the bulk of their runs.
Tobias Hack played the game of his life last weekend to score 126 under trying circumstances and he will be looking to take that form into this contest.
Codie Howard is one of the most elegant and talented batsmen in town and he will be seeking to make amends for his early dismissal against West last weekend. Harvey, Mateer, Garrick and Vella shore up the North middle order and they will need to lend good support to Hack and Howard.
The Magpies lack an express bowler but they have good line and length bowlers in O’Malley, Hannon, Rosenbaum and Paull.
The “X” factor could be Justin Heath who has hardly bowled this season. But he did the same last season and yet claimed valuable wickets in the grand final.
Shepherd and Hale could also play a significant hand with the ball on a deck that has been conducive to spin all season.
The North bowlers probably lack the consistency in line and length of their counterparts but Chase Johnson gives them an edge in the pace department while both Mateer and Vella have emerged as potential game breakers with their offspin on the Jubilee wicket in recent games.
This game has all the hallmarks of being one of the best grand finals for some time.
The sides look evenly matched with strengths in some areas offset by weaknesses in other.
Forced to make a selection, I think Central can make it three premierships on end. The Magpie bowlers’ better line and length and perhaps a slight edge in batting depth could give them the edge but a North win would certainly not be a big surprise.