ST ARNAUD is out to halt a four-match losing streak with a home clash against second-last side Jeffcott tomorrow.
Last year’s runners-up have been in an alarming free-fall since the end of November with consecutive losses to Donald, Brim-Kellalac-Sheep Hills, St Mary’s and Marnoo.
They are still in the top four courtesy of a hot start to the season, which saw them go through the first four rounds undefeated.
A key to the rest of St Arnaud’s season will be the ever-dangerous Bruce Hando.
Hando averaged 55 runs in the Saints’ four wins to start the season but has averaged just 15.75 in the four losses since.
His bowling has picked up, most notably with a five-wicket haul against Brim-Kellalac-Sheep Hills in round six, but the Saints need Hando to produce with the bat.
St Arnaud skipper Jacob Patching has also been quiet in two of the past three rounds, with his 23 runs against Marnoo at the weekend the most he has managed since November.
Jeffcott wants to see St Arnaud’s batsmen continue to struggle, and Nicholas Atkins will be the key.
Atkins has claimed 10 wickets in his past four matches at a sterling average of 5.8.
With four wickets against Donald at the weekend, Atkins is in red-hot form and should get some help from the likes of the consistent James Heslop.
Even with a strong bowling performance, Jeffcott will still need to produce runs with the bat.
Only Daniel Atkins, 26 runs, and Alex Sheridan, 22, managed more than five runs last week.
Charlton will have to go through Donald at Rich Avon tomorrow to get back into the top four.
The Blues turned around their form with a win over bottom side Wycheproof-Narraport at the weekend, but tomorrow’s test will be much tougher.
Donald’s Dion Hawkes made a season-high 37 runs at the weekend and the team won easily even without contributions from openers Jake Leith and Andrew Bayles.
Donald is third on the ladder and will enter the match as favourite. St Mary’s still sports an undefeated record and will put it on the line tomorrow against Marnoo in Warracknabeal.
The Saints downed Brim-Kellalac-Sheep Hills in a thriller at the weekend and that good form should carry them over the line tomorrow.
In the final match, the Eagles will take on Wycheproof-Narraport.
Brim-Kellalac-Sheep Hills has been the surprise packet of the season, emerging as a legitimate challenge to reigning premier St Mary’s after St Arnaud began to falter.
Their match against the Demons tomorrow looks like a routine win on paper.
Wycheproof-Narraport will only stand a chance if opener Tom Trewin and all-rounder Dale Crawford – both quiet with the bat at the weekend – fire.