HORSHAM Saints will be one team hoping this weekend’s play does not get called off after posting 280 against Laharum at Coughlin Park last week.
With temperatures in excess of 40 degrees forecast for Saturday and Sunday, the Saints’ plan to stabilise a top-four spot with good performances against the Mountain Men and Jung Tigers might be thwarted.
Saints skipper Gary Davidson said both games were key in the context of his team’s finals aspirations.
“They’re important games for us with Jung and Laharum both fighting for those same positions,” he said.
“Hopefully it doesn’t get to the limit, we think we’ve got ourselves into a solid position.”
The Saints score last Saturday was the highest total on Coughlin Park’s turf wicket, thanks largely to half-centuries from all-rounders Ben Sawyer and Tilly Kariyawasam.
But Davidson said a deep Mountain Men batting line-up had the ability to chase down big scores, and his bowlers would have to be at the top of their game.
“Their batting’s been their strength all year – guys like Bunworth, Doyle and Peucker have all made scores,” he said.
“But we’ve got a lot of depth with our bowling and we’ll be able to share the load – I think that’s one of our strengths.
“Ben, Tom McDonald, Josh Carroll and Tilly, those four have been pretty good this year.”
With games to come against top sides Homers and Rup-Minyip, plus finals contenders Blackheath-Dimboola, a win or two for the third-placed Saints this weekend could be crucial.
“The next couple of games will be interesting, it would put us in a good position if we can win this weekend,” Davidson said.
At Sunnyside, Rup-Minyip has set Homers 198 for victory in last season’s grand final rematch.
Pigeons captain Lachie Jones claimed 4-11 last weekend, and will likely be in the thick of the action again on Saturday with the bat. Homers are 0-3 in reply to the Blue Panthers total, with prolific opening batsman Sandy Hodge undefeated on three runs at the top of a near full-strength batting order.
Colts skipper Brad Millar will have his eyes set on a two-day win against Jung after seamer Drew Carmody collected 7-14 last week to leave the Tigers chase of 138 in tatters.
First drop Tyler Neville remains undefeated on 30, with Grant Marshall for company, with the Tigers needing another 54 runs at Dudley Cornell Park.
Noradjuha-Toolondo’s batsmen have grown fond of conditions at Horsham City Oval, but it is now up to the bowlers to ensure they don’t suffer a third successive defeat.
Josh Colbert led the way for the Bullants with 72, while the spin bowling of Jarred Combe could be vital in hot conditions after he claimed a five-wicket haul first week after Christmas.
Blackheath-Dimboola is yet to win a two-day match this season, however a win on Saturday would almost make playing finals cricket a certainty.
In Sunday’s re-scheduled round 10 one-day fixtures, Rup-Minyip will host the Bullants at Rupanyup, the Pigeons will take on Colts at Sunnyside, the Tigers and Saints will meet at Horsham City Oval and the Bulls travel to Laharum to face the Mountain Men.
If any of these matches are cancelled due to the heat policy, teams will split the points.