Rivals at it again
Saturday, 4th March, 2017
By Tyler Hannigan
Broken Hill’s A Grade cricket season reaches its climax today at the Alma Oval as defending champs Central take on 2016/17’s dominant team West for the premiership.
By finishing top of the table West went straight through to today’s grand final and should be fresh after the week off while Central battled past North in the preliminary final last weekend.
West, who suffered only one defeat this season to Central in round four by three runs, have easily been the best team and deserve to start this one as favourites.
Their astonishing 89-point season had an even spread of contributors and it showed last Monday night at the Barrier District Cricket League awards night Max Everuss took out the batting average award with an average of 44.2 while skipper Peter Christos claimed 29 wickets for the season to win the bowling aggregate trophy.
They, along with young speedster Michael Maalste, finished in the top six for the cricketer of the year voting which was won by Central’s Jarred Paull for the fifth time.
West has named a very strong lineup with young off-spinner Tristan Smith the unlucky one to miss out. His father Dave Smith has been named but is still a question mark with Liam King likely to come in if there is a late change.
They have batting all the way down and it will be crucial for Central to take wickets because West could score a huge total if they have wickets in hand coming into the final few overs.
“They key for us is to approach the game like we have all season,” Christos said.
“I’ll be looking for an even contribution from all players.
“The boys have applied themselves pretty well leading into the finals.”
Central took care of business in last week’s preliminary final against North, bowling the Dogs out for 112 before chasing it down with seven wickets in hand. Paull put the game beyond doubt by blasting a 36-ball 54 while opener Darren Salt made 24 and Jon Carrett 19.
The Magpies’ season hasn’t been one of their best in recent times but Paull said he’s pleased with how the side has stuck together.
“(Our season) has been pretty good,” Paull said.
“The development of the kids is promising and the core group of the team has been together for most of the season.”
He said that doing the little things will be important if Central are to beat their more fancied opponents today.
“Early wickets, taking catches and turning the strike over will be massive in the game,” Paull said.
“We’ve got to realise that every run is crucial.
“Partnerships have been a problem for us and if we can fix that then it’ll go a long way to being competitive.
“Taking regular wickets when bowling and conserving wickets for the last 15 overs will be important.”
Darren Salt retains his place as does young leg spinner Luke Hall who claimed the big wicket of Tobias Hack last week. Scott Mateer has also held on to a spot while Matt Muscat is 12th man.
These sides have won all but three flags since the turn of this century such is their dominance. West lead the overall premiership count with 27. North are second on 18, Central on 15 and South sit on nine. Eight of Central’s 15 flags have come since 2000/01.
Teams: (in likely batting order)
Mackenzie Attard (wk)- strong hitter of the ball, particularly down the ground. Attard has shown glimpses of his talent this year and will want to have an impact today.
Dave Smith- has recently moved to town and has slipped straight into West’s best IX. Powerful striker but has failed to really cash in thus far.
Max Everuss- has put together a great season with the bat, averaging 44. Will be crucial in building a big score today and can accelerate well towards the end of his innings.
Matt Handberg- brings class and experience to the side. Very good batsmen who can score in all areas and a quality leg spin bowler that can take a bag of wickets.
Clint Pearce- a solid batsman that puts a high price on his wicket. Pearce has scored important runs this year including 23 not out in the T20 final against Central.
Paul Attard- champion player in his 31st year of senior cricket. Still bowls very well and will rise for the big occasion while his batting can be dangerous if he gets going.
Lachlan Harvey- clean striking all-rounder who made the switch from North mid-season and adds depth to West’s batting and bowling stocks.
Peter Christos (c)- claimed a league-high 29 wickets through the season with his skidding medium pace and is a very capable bat.
Callum Rosewarn- a very good all-round cricketer who bowls with good pace and bounce whilst also capable of batting anywhere in the order.
Kyle Jelbert- another player who can bat anywhere but will be used more with the ball. Is fairly quick through the air and exacts movement off the pitch.
Michael Maalste- quickest bowler in A Grade, Maalste has come into form in the second half of the year. Also a powerful hitter, he could be promoted up the order if required.
Darren Salt- an addition to the side later in the season, Salt secured his spot after showing patience atop the order with scores of 34 not out and 24 last week.
Jason Maalste- will square off against son Michael today. Jason is an experienced player who bowls handy medium pace and will play his shots while batting.
Riley Elvery- a new recruit after Christmas, Elvery has shown application each time he’s batted and he could float around the order depending on the situation.
Jon Carrett- tall left arm bowler and classical batsman, Carrett can score all around the wicket and generates good bounce when bowling.
Jarred Paull (c)- Broken Hill’s premier all-rounder, Paull can impact the game in any aspect. Coming off a brilliant knock last week and he’ll want to lead his side to their fifth straight flag.
Paul Gauci (wk)- has been Central’s most consistent batsmen all season with three half-centuries and a top score of 89 off 92 balls and will again need to stand up in this big game.
Jake Trengove- a solid batsman who has made starts this season without really cashing in which he’ll want to do if he gets a chance today. Also provides another option with the ball.
David O’Mally- Broken Hill’s most consistent bowler with an average of just over six runs per wicket. O’Mally rarely misses his mark when bowling and recently scored his first half-century with the bat.
Luke Neal- returned from injury last week and was impressive when bowling. Bowls with good pace and always gives it his all. Is no slouch with the bat either.
Scott Mateer- capable cricketer who can bat anywhere in the order. Also quick between wickets and a handy off spin bowler.
Luke Hall- a promising junior leg spin bowler who has played the majority of the season in A Grade. Could be targeted by West’s batsmen which could lead to him taking multiple wickets.