IT is a mathematician’s dream with one day remaining in the Sale-Maffra cricket regular season.
Saturday is make or break for Stratford, Bundalaguah, Rosedale-Kilmany, Maffra and Collegians, who are battling for the three available spots in the finals alongside Sale.
Scattered showers are predicted in Sale, which could mean valuable time is taken out of matches.
Stratford and Rosedale-Kilmany may be secretly hoping for a wash out, to eliminate any possibility of Collegians getting the outright victory it needs to barnstorm its way into the top four.
STRATFORD will face some nervous energy when it goes out to bowl against Sale.
With a good total of 7-277 on the board, Stratford will see it as half a job done, with the onus now on the bowlers to deliver.
The bowlers will need to make the most of opportunities early in the piece, as the wicket at Sale Oval may flatten out after tea, as it proved last week.
The Redbacks have drafted veteran seamer Simon Williams into the team, who will be looking to get the ball accelerating off the pitch early, before returning to see if there is any reverse swing on offer.
Sale captain Rohan Blandford will play a vital role in the run chase, and if he can negotiate the first session and build some partnerships with John Mayman, Coenie Nel and Ben Jones, the Swans should be a good chance late in the day.
The Swans have brought in young wicket-keeper batsman Daniel Padula to the top flight, and will be hoping he shows the same positive signs that other young Sale players like Brodie Dobson, Tim Dessent and Darren Marks have this season.
Whoever is off the field at any given time for Stratford may be tasked will relaying scores from the match between Collegians and Longford to the middle.
After losing the one-day final, the Swans will want to avoid two defeats heading into the main finals.
COLLEGIANS needs to take another 14 wickets and possibly bat again if it is to get the outright victory it needs against Longford.
It appears to be so far-so good for College, after it declared at 6-186, before managing to have the Lizards 6-83 at stumps. Tom Morrison (3-18) and Stuart Anderson (2-10) did most of the damage with the ball, and will be eager to pick up where they left off on Saturday.
While Collegians’ intentions are clear, it would be dangerous to say an outright result is a certainty.
With Longford 103 behind, there is the possibility Collegians will have to bat again. If this happens, it will take precious time off the clock, and the rain that may fall could deny College the chance to gain maximum points.
With 80 overs in the day and 14 wickets needed, College would have to take a wicket every six overs, provided Longford only bats once, which suddenly makes the odds not as one-sided as they seem, especially if College batted twice. Any cricket team worth its salt is never going to hand an outright to its opponent, so College will still need to do the right things.
Longford’s Sam Smith will resume on 45, and will be looking to add to his score.
The remaining Longford batsman may be advised to just bat without the fear of going out, because by doing this, their stroke play will be more positive, purposeful and allow them to play with the freedom to score.
ROSEDALE-KILMANY stands to be the team people are going to feel sorry for if Stratford defeats Sale and Collegians outrights Longford.
If those two results happen, the Warriors will miss the finals, even though they have already won their match against Maffra on first innings.
A Stratford win will mean the Redbacks go to 50 points and more than likely keep second spot, while a College outright will take it to 48 points and into the top four at the expense of Rosedale-Kilmany, which will finish the season on 46 points.
The Warriors are currently five runs ahead of the Eagles with four wickets in hand.
Rosedale-Kilmany may have to try and outright Maffra to make sure College cannot overtake them.
This approach could also play into Maffra’s hands, as the Eagles can still make finals if they reverse-outright Rosedale-Kilmany and Longford denies College maximum points.
The Eagles will receive six points if they can reverse-outright the Warriors, which could remarkably get them as high as second if Stratford loses and Boisdale-Briagolong defeats Bundalaguah.
Warriors batsman Rohan Diamond and Harry Tattersall are currently at the crease, and will need to build their lead into the triple figures before sending Maffra back in. Diamond has the ability to tee off, and if ever there was the time for him to play one of his memorable innings, it was this one.
While Rosedale-Kilmany is in control of the match, the fact it needs to play so attackingly means Maffra will still be in the game right till the end.
With so many things outside of their control, Rosedale-Kilmany players might just spend Friday night doing their best rain dances to make sure it definitely cannot move from its current position of fourth on the ladder.
BUNDALAGUAH will play finals provided it can defend 262 against Boisdale-Briagolong.
The Bulls were in control last weekend after some early trouble had them 2-12, with skipper Sam Bedggood stroking a fine century and Cloete Buitendag making 76.
With so many other teams relying on other results to determine their fate, Bundalaguah’s destiny is entirely in its own hands.
The Bulls should have no reason to think they can’t get through the match unscathed, and will call on strike bowlers Gayashan Munsinghe and Steve Spoljaric to take charge.
Spinners Jake Wynd and Buitendag will bowl a lot of overs in the middle stages, and will benefit from the workload.
Boisdale-Briagolong will want to put its best foot forward, and the reigning premier may feel it might as well go down swinging for the final day of the season.
Toby Leeds could send some balls into the trees at Bundalaguah if he gets hold of a few, while Tom Langshaw and Robert Entwistle will also want to get a score next to their name.
The Saints will want to end the season on a high and send Englishman Jonathan Beech home on a good note.