Saturday, 3rd March, 2018
By Tyler Hannigan
It’s finals time in local cricket as West clash with North in the Demo Club A Grade semi-final today at the Alma Oval.
The sides meet to decide who will face Central in the grand final next weekend and North will go in as heavy favourites after a strong season.
The Bulldogs finished second on the ladder five points behind Central and 14 points ahead of West with eight wins from 12 completed games.
Their only losses came against Central in round two, West in round three, Central again in round eight and finally South in round 10 after Christmas.
Their strong season has been led by captain Tobias Hack who scored 401 runs at an average of 50 and a top score of 101 not out.
He was easily A Grade’s leading run scorer and was far and away North’s best with the bat. Their next best batsman in terms of runs was Brendon Martin with 76.
Bowling-wise they’ve been led by off-spinner Jordan Vella who has been in dominant form after Christmas with 13 wickets in four games. He finished as A Grade’s leading wicket taker with 19 scalps at a brilliant average of 5.42 per wicket.
West have struggled for consistency in 2017/18, posting six wins and six losses, but still finished third comfortably ahead of South.
Their batting, apart from the sterling form of Max Everuss, was disappointing. Only Everuss, Mackenzie Attard and Paul Attard averaged more than 15 with the bat.
The bowling has been strong, however, with Nathan Waterhouse finishing second on the wicket takers list with 18.
Peter Christos (16) and Kyle Jelbert (10) also enjoyed great seasons with the ball while Phil Summers with eight wickets from six games at 6.13 runs per wicket has been great late in the season.
North have had the wood over West this season after the Robins knocked off the Dogs in round two. Round six saw a 32-run win to North thanks to a Hack innings of 97 and then North’s bowlers did the damage in their two games after Christmas, bowling West out for 63 in round 12 and just 45 last weekend.
One expects Hack to keep his form going and he’ll be keen to lead his side back to the grand final for the first time in a number of seasons.
Codie Howard bowled well last week (4-4 from 2.3 overs) but hasn’t quite played to his potential with the bat, although that could change today. He’s a quality batsman and capable of batting through the innings who West will need to dismiss early.
West’s batting simply must improve today for them to be a chance. It will likely come down to Everuss, A Grade’s second leading run scorer, who will need to play a substantial innings and hope that he gets support from the likes of Mackenzie Attard, Clint Pearce, Rhys Pavlich and Liam King.
North will be favourites and look to have greater depth but it will no doubt be a tough matchup befitting of a semi-final.
North- T. Hack (c), J. Vella, C. Howard, M. Letcher, B. Victory, L. Larkins, B. Martin, S. Dalby, J. Savage, A. Wilson, T. Davey, J. Schorn (12th), E. Thomas (13th)
West- P. Christos (c), Pad. Attard, M. Attard, M. Everuss, M. Handberg, C. Pearce, L. King, R. Pavlich, K. Jelbert, N. Waterhouse, P. Summers