Rain, rain, go away

Liam Durkin

FINGERS and toes will be crossed in the Sale-Maffra Cricket Association on Saturday, as players and officials try to get the 2020-21 season underway after the first two weeks were washed out.

More rain is forecast for Saturday, and the wet weather this past week could leave squares saturated – adding to the frustration of all involved who just want to get out and play.

Stratford has put forward a proposal to use reserve days set aside at the end of the season to replay the washed-out rounds, while pushing finals back to the end of March.

The Redbacks’ proposal will be an item of business to be discussed at the next SMCA committee meeting.

LAST season’s semi-finalists Collegians and Rosedale-Kilmany will headline round three.

Both teams are capable of playing exhilarating cricket, with a number of proven match winners on either side.

Collegians’ captain Zac Hurley will want to ensure his team maintains its strong recent home ground advantage, which sits at a 72.73 per cent win rate in the past five seasons.

Warriors counterpart Rohan Diamond will want to make the trip back to Rosedale a happy one, and will feel confident knowing recent history suggests Rosedale-Kilmany perform well when chasing. Rosedale-Kilmany won four one-day matches batting second last season.

The skipper’s brother, Adam Diamond, who has been seldom available the last few years, was named on the team sheet last weekend, and it will be interesting to see if he is again on Saturday.

MAFFRA and Stratford will meet in what is shaping as a close contest.

Although it is only the first game, a win will be vital to either team, as they could find themselves fighting each other for a place in the finals in five months time.

Both teams will enter the match confident of achieving victory, and players will be eager to strut their stuff.

Ultimately, it could be a ‘first to 180 wins’ type of game.

While rain is likely to fall, the Cameron Sporting Complex is still generally a batting paradise, and whoever wins the toss might still look to bat first and turn the ball into a bar of soap as quickly as possible.

Stratford opening batsman Cormac Hassett is hard to dislodge, and if he bats for an extended period, will not only score but make life easier for the hitters in the middle order.

Maffra could have an ace up its sleeve in left arm swing bowler Nathan Magnuson, and if conditions suit, he will be wanting to inflict maximum carnage.

BUNDALAGUAH will travel to Stephenson Park to take on Longford.

Conditions could be tricky at a ground which has been low scoring at the best of times, with teams only averaging 163 batting first in the last five seasons in one-day games. That said, players, especially bowlers, will no doubt welcome a more even contest and wicket that does not weigh things too much in favour of batsmen.

Bundalaguah will be looking to stamp its authority on the contest, with its seasoned senior players expected to show a number of younger players in the team what first grade cricket is all about.

Youngster Bayden Dowsett was named to make his debut last weekend, and will be eager to step onto the field with the Bulls first graders if given the opportunity.

Longford might also have some debutants, Lincoln Rolfe and Poojan Katyal, new recruits from RAAF Base, East Sale who have waited three weeks to get their first game away.

BOISDALE-BRIAGOLONG will welcome Sale.

The new-look Saints will be keen to see how they stack up against the reigning premier, and should take something away from the match regardless of the result. If the Saints win – then great, but if not – they are bound to learn a few lessons.

Boisdale-Briagolong bowler Liam Hurst kept things tidy in one day games last season, and should prove a good first change option if thrown the ball tomorrow.

Sale will be aiming to bank points and play in an as simplistic manner as possible.

The Swans’ game style hasn’t been overly spectacular in the past couple of seasons, with all players just accepting and understanding their roles.

Bowlers have been instructed to bowl one side of the wicket, and captain Rohan Blandford has set fields accordingly, working on the ‘you can’t set fields to bad bowling’ principle.

Those in the field have been alert, most notably Matt Raidal, who is rated among the competition’s best. Boisdale-Briagolong will need to weary of Raidal’s presence tomorrow, as he has a penchant for turning half-chances into run outs and catches.