ST ARNAUD will go into the A Grade Wimmera-Mallee Cricket Association grand final as favourites this week according to association secretary Gary Fernandez.
The side will take on Donald in the two-day grand final at Birchip at the weekend.
The game will start Saturday and should finish Sunday, with March 25 in reserve if any play is lost.
Fernandez said St Arnaud have played consistent cricket throughout the 2016-17 season and deserve to start slight favourites.
“The side has not been in finals for the last few seasons but the reliability of its batting lineup and bowling attack has stood out this season,” he said.
“Donald have been in the last few grand finals but they are a much younger side this season.”
In last year’s grand final it lost to Brim-Kellalac-Sheep Hills but previously won in 2014-15. After narrowly winning its way into finals the dies progressed through the semi-final on the back of Dylan Ruurd’s standout innings of 71.
Good bowling by Dion Hawkes, Cooper Anderson and Jack Landwehr allowed Donald to defend its low total against Birchip.
“While Donald’s side is younger the players still have plenty of finals experience,” Fernadez said.
That experience could prove vital on a Birchip wicket that could potentially be difficult to bat on.
“It’s a very poppy wicket,” Fernadez said. “Batsmen need to work hard in order really play themselves in.”
Patrick Gregory will be an important player for the side as he has been all season.
The big medium-fast bowler has taken 32 wickets in 12 matches at and average of 10.75. He has also proven useful with the bat by scoring 268 at an average of just under 30.
Bruce Hando will be another important cog for St Arnaud. He has 29 wickets next to his name and 345 runs.
The depth of the side’s all rounders is shown by Jacob Patching’s 27 wickets and 322 runs.
Fernadez said the side that negotiates the conditions best in the early sates of its innings will be favoured.
“It could be down to who wins the toss,” he said.
“If the team that bats first can get off to a good start by getting runs on the board it will be in a strong position.
“Finals can be a different prospect and it could come down to headspace a little. If wickets of start falling someone in the side needs to be calm enough to bring things back under control.”
Just as with any game of cricket runs on the board are very useful. Once a team has runs on the board nerves within the side will settle but up until that point anything is possible.
- The A Grade grand final starts 1.30pm on Saturday and Sunday at Brichip.