Less time, increased challenge

Liam Durkin

TIME could be the biggest enemy in Sale-Maffra cricket on Saturday, as teams fight the clock to gain vital first innings points following a reduced number of overs last weekend.

With five teams ranked second to sixth still on the same number of wins, victory in the penultimate round will give sides some breathing space heading into finals.

STRATFORD’S season may be on the line against Longford.

The Redbacks are in trouble at 5-51 after being injected on a bowler-friendly pitch on day one by the Lizards.

Resuming batsmen Lewis Bolton and Ben Channing will want to negotiate the first session and should look to tee off to get Stratford a total around the 150 mark.

The Redbacks still have Dylan Bolton and Tom Wrigglesworth in the sheds, as well as Seb Pendergast, who can send the ball a long way.

Stratford will probably want at least 40 overs to bowl Longford out, so it won’t need to take too many risks to get to 150, needing to go at just under four an over to reach that mark.

Longford will entertain thoughts of knocking over the final five Stratford wickets with minimal fuss to give itself as much time as possible to chase the runs.

Kerrod Macgregor-Davies and Richard Bell caused problems last week with the ball, and will eye off some more scalps on Saturday.

Bell will be a vital cog in the Lizards’ batting line-up and should have his eye in after spending the week at Country Week.

Longford may look to promote Macauley Lawrenson up the order if the team needs to increase its run rate late in the day.

MAFFRA will have to give its bowlers a good total to defend against Collegians.

The Eagles are 6-52, having been subjected to a juicy first day pitch.

Brett Lanigan and Nathan Magnuson will resume their innings, and should be looking to bat for a considerable period of time. The pair are both experienced campaigners and have scored runs at important times in the past, and tomorrow’s situation will require them to draw on that experience and play with a cool head.

Lanigan has got himself to 17 and Magnuson has proven himself with the bat this season, scoring 69 from number nine late last year.

The Eagles can’t afford to play for a draw as Collegians (currently one position below Maffra on the ladder) plays Longford next week.

The Eagles may have to roll the dice and set attaching fields when they go out to bowl.

Collegians is expected to call on its attaching top order of Zac Hurley, Adrian Burgiel and Jack Tatterson to get the job done.

BUNDALAGUAH has a slight upper hand on Rosedale-Kilmany, mainly due to the fact Steve Spoljaric is still in and already has 51 to his name.

The Bulls are 4-84 and could be eyeing off a total in excess of 200.

If Spoljaric gets a few boundaries early, the Warriors could chasing a fair bit of leather. The ace all rounder has youngster Jake Wynd for company, who can also hit a decent ball.

Skipper Sam Bedggood is also yet to bat, and is usually good for at least 30.

Rosedale-Kilmany will aim to be batting before tea, and should take confidence from its recent run of form. The Warriors have some big hitters of their own, and if Brad Scott and Rohan Diamond find the middle, a chase of 200 in around 40 overs will not be outside the realms of possibility.

BOISDALE-BRIAGOLONG and Sale will meet for virtually a new game, after no play last weekend.

The two sides should come to a gentleman’s agreement and turn the match into a one-dayer. Unless someone is close to making a ton, it would be reasonably expected that whoever bats firsts declares after 40 overs.

Sale cannot move from top spot on the ladder and may be looking at the game as an opportunity to make sure everything is perfect as it heads toward the finals.

Veteran spinner John Mayman is appreciating the fields set by captain Rohan Blandford and is enjoying a solid season.

The Saints will be confident after toppling Stratford a fortnight ago, and will also feel the one-day game suits them.

Boisdale-Briagolong only lost to Sale by one wicket earlier in the season, and if Toby Leeds, Liam Hurst and Todd Mann can perform to their best, the side could be in with a decent chance of upstaging the Swans.