North pride on the line
Saturday, 18th February, 2017
By Tyler Hannigan
In the last game of the regular season North do battle with ladder leaders West tomorrow at the Alma Oval.
North suffered another collapse last week, being bowled out for just 67 against Central. They fought hard to take five Magpie wickets but they were ultimately outplayed.
The Bulldogs have now been dismissed for 80 or less five times this season and it’s something they’ll need to rectify before their cut-throat preliminary final against Central next week. They rely heavily on skipper Tobias Hack and if he fails then they usually find it tough to score anything substantial.
Missing again this week are Codie Howard and Shayne Staker, both of whom are experienced and talented batsmen that can take the pressure off Hack.
That is not to say this is an inexperienced North outfit though, with the inclusion of Scott Rogers, Jamin Whyman and Cohen Sweet to join Josh Savage who top-scored last week with 21.
Whyman is a quality batsman, capable of playing a destructive innings but is in desperate need of runs having barely scored since his 83 not out in the first game of the season. He followed that knock with a 20 before a run of 0, 4, 3, 4, 3 and 4 and will need runs tomorrow to book his place in the preliminary final.
Austin Wilson, Logan Berryman, Ben Victory and Tom Davey all drop out from last round while Andrew Prince joins Rogers, Sweet and Whyman as the inclusions.
North looks to be a little light on for bowling options with the absence of Chris Mitchell, Shane Dalby and the like. Kieran McEvoy is a quality bowler, as is Nash Mitchell, and Jordan Vella can hold down one end but they’ll need to find more overs out of their part-timers.
West’s game last week was called off due to the extreme heat so they’ll be extra motivated to play well in their final hit out before the Grand Final on March 4.
The Robins have put together a brilliant season, winning the T20 and dropping just the one game which was to Central in round four by three runs. Having booked their spot in the decider, West will want to head into that game in the best form possible with a win tomorrow over North.
They’ve named a strong team for the clash with batting depth galore. Matt Handberg returns to the team while Max Everuss, Clint Pearce and Lachie Harvey make up a strong middle order.
New recruit Dave Smith has impressed with his power hitting and forms a dangerous partnership with young wicket-keeper Mackenzie Attard at the top of the order.
Bowling wise, their attack will be led by Michael Maalste and Kyle Jelbert while the experienced duo of Pete Christos and Paul Attard are incredibly tough to get away. Throw in the leg spin of Handberg and off breaks of Tristan Smith and you have a very well balanced attack.
West defeated North by three wickets in their last encounter in what was a quality game of cricket. Tristan Smith took 5-37 before 22 to father Dave and 25 to Pearce allowed them to chase down North’s 135 with 11 balls to go.
Nothing can change in terms of finals for either of these teams but both will want to enter them in winning form, so expect another fierce and fiery contest on Sunday.