LONGFORD will fancy its chances when it travels to Briagolong on Saturday, as the two-day fixtures get underway in Sale-Maffra cricket.
The Lizards have been relatively competitive in two of their opening three games this season, and will be hoping everything comes together over the next two weeks as they look to get their first win on the board.
Boisdale-Briagolong is also win-less, and will be eager to make up some lost points from the one-day games and could be in the box seat for an outright win if it can score around 250 and bowl a few overs at Longford before stumps, or conversely, bowl the Lizards out early and set about building an insurmountable lead.
The reigning premier will need greater output from its batting card, as so far this season the team’s highest individual score is just 32.
Having said that, the Saints have the talent to produce match-winning performances, and are hard to beat if the majority of the 11 plays near their full potential.
Longford will look to players like Andrew Tyson and Kerrod Macgregor-Davies to lead from the front, but will be hoping they will not have to do all the heavy lifting.
Tyson scored 73 last week against Rosedale-Kilmany, while Macgregor-Davies has played in successful teams in the past and will want to show some of the Lizards’ younger players the right way to play the game.
STRATFORD and Maffra will meet in a game which could potentially decide a finals berth in five months time.
The Redbacks have begun to find their feet in recent weeks, with some great individual performances highlighting their last two victories.
Taylor Tatterson has made a welcome return to the club and scored a fine 83 not out last week batting at first drop.
Cormc Hassett has also begun the season well, scoring 57 for Stratford on Saturday and then 56 for Sale-Maffra in representative cricket the following day.
Hassett possess the ideal set-up position to strike the ball cleanly, with the toe of his bat pointed skyward as the bowler releases the ball, meaning his hands are able to accelerate or decelerate the downswing depending on the pace of the ball.
Stratford’s batting depth is one of its strengths, with players like Sam Anstee, who has seven first grade half-centuries to his name, coming in as low as 10 some weeks.
With the ball, Jonny Lash and Simon Williams will more than likely take the new rock and will bowl a tight stump-to-stump line. Lash may be required to bowl long spells in this match, while Williams will use his vast amount of knowledge to extract as much movement both in the air and off the pitch as possible.
The footmarks created by the pace bowlers will then give spinners Dylan Bolton, Jack Rietschel and Anstee the opportunity to cash in as the match progresses.
Maffra will be feeling good following victory over Bundalaguah, where its bowlers successfully defended a par total of 174.
Andrew McKenzie and David Griffiths reduced the Bulls to 3-11, with McKenzie claiming the prized scalp of Steve Spoljaric.
From there, Bundalaguah continued to collapse, and fell to 5-27 before being all out for 118.
The Eagles will want a similar performance with the ball against the Redbacks, and will be hoping a few players who missed out on scoring runs last week can redeem themselves.
One Maffra player who is finding the middle of the bat is skipper Josh Davis, who has already scored more than 200 runs this season. The left hander will be keen to spend as much time at the crease as possible in this match, and will want to build partnerships with the likes of Daniel Bedggood, Lee Hopkins and Jack Egan.
COLLEGIANS will host Rosedale-Kilmany, in what could be a similarly important game come the end of the regular season.
Both teams have won two games and lost one so far. The Warriors have quietly gone about their business in the early stages of 2019-20.
Key batsman Rohan Diamond, after getting starts in the first two games, converted his chance last week to remain unbeaten on 73. Diamond and Cameron Freshwater have put on some good partnerships at the top of the order, with Freshwater yet to be dismissed this season with scores of 41 and 44 respectively.
The Warriors will know they will need to put a very good score on the board if they bat first, as the Collegians’ batting card is one of the classiest in Gippsland cricket.
Collegians suffered a middle order collapse against Sale, and will be smarting from the performance. Captain Jack Tatterson is striking the ball well at the moment, and will unmercifully dispatch anything that is overpitched or dropped short.
If Collegians bats first and the top order of Adrian Burgiel, Zac Hurley and Matt Foster are let off the chain, there could be a few sore bodies in the Rosedale-Kilmany camp come Sunday.
If it bowls first, Collegians will have Stuart Anderson to provide his usual menacing length with just enough bite off the surface, as well as the Morrisons, Tom and Charlie, who are bowling well. Isaac Love will come into the match as the surface breaks up, and should be good for at least two wickets, and can also contribute valuable runs himself with the bat.
SALE will look to continue its unbeaten run when it plays Bundalaguah.
The Swans current 3-0 record is their best start to a season since 1991-92.
Although it would be happy to be sitting in outright first position on the ladder, Sale will be wanting to produce more complete performances in the two-day games, and not have to rely on last minute heroics to get it over the line.
Because of his recent finishing ability, Matt Raidal ensured victory for the Swans.
Recruits Coenie Nel and Daniel Croft have produced wickets and runs for the team, and will meet new challenges in the longer format.
Bundalaguah has lost its past two games and will be desperate to realign its early season form.
The Bulls had a tough day with the bat last week, which deflated a solid bowling performance, and will enter tomorrow’s game with a fresh mind.
As Bundalaguah has suffered top order collapses in consecutive weeks, it may go into the game with a mentality of not worrying about the run rate in the first two sessions and keeping maximum wickets in hand until tea if it bats first.
If the Bulls are two down with 100 to 120 runs on the board at tea, it could easily finish the day touching the 300 mark.
An early inspection of the Sale Oval wicket showed that it should have something in it for the batters and bowlers. Batting will become easier if those who are at the crease knuckle down.