FOOT INJURY SIDELINES AMOS
By TONY WHITE
A COACHING session with a junior player that went horribly wrong has sidelined star Westlawn Grafton Hotel opening batsman Daniel Amos for this weekend's Bananacoast Community Credit Union Premier League cricket competition major semi-final against South Services at Ellem Oval.
At training on Wednesday afternoon, Amos was facing up to a junior when he received a ball the 30-year-old described as 'an absolute pearler'.
"It smashed the end of my toe open, split and lifted the toenail," Amos said.
"The young fella came up and said 'sorry about that', he was a bit upset. I just couldn't get my foot out of the road."
Amos actually faced a couple more deliveries before the session ended and he headed home.
"When I took the shoe off my sock was covered in blood," he said.
"I thought 'hell, this isn't much good'."
Amos is not sure if the toe is fractured, but he is still unable to get a shoe on, forcing his withdrawal from the match. The winner from the match will progress directly to the grand final.
"This is the first time I've missed a finals series through injury," Amos said.
"Hopefully the toe will settle down and I can be right for the next game.
"I'll be there on the sidelines though cheering the boys on this weekend."
Amos, who almost single-handedly won the 2003 grand final for Westlawn with a brilliant knock of 195 not out, is bitterly disappointed at missing today's vital match.
Westlawn captain Tony Blanch said one of three players ? himself, Rob McCredie or Mark Robinson ? would be promoted to join Shaun Ulrick in the opening role.
Blanch suggested the return of Tim Grosser to the side would be a plus for the minor premiers.
Jason Chevalley, cited for umpire dissent after the semi-final against South in the night competition, has been cleared to play after escaping with a four-match suspended sentence following an appearance before the CRCA judiciary on Thursday.
"Most of us are not playing our best cricket," Blanch admitted.
"Hopefully the pressure of finals cricket will make us knuckle down. It's time to stand up and be counted.
"Pound for pound we're a very strong side but South are a young side on a roll and won't be easy to beat.
"The three vital keys I'll be impressing on the boys is catches are crucial, making sure we bat out our 100 overs and making partnerships vital."
Westlawn and South have met four times this season for two wins apiece.
South's young skipper, Brett Woods, said his team's confidence was 'sky high'.
"We're not getting carried away, like each match this season we'll see what happens but we'll play tough, hard cricket and try and push them (Westlawn) all the way," Woods said.
"Our top order has been going well and hopefully we can get among the runs again."
Brendan Hardy comes into the side for Robbie Bell.
South's top order has been in devastating form recently and Woods, along with Tom and Matt Kroehnert, will again need to fire.
The sudden death match between Harwood Hilton and Grafton Services Brothers takes place at Yamba Oval.
It is believed to be the first Premier League finals match played at the ground.
Harwood's experienced opener Ed Munday said the team remained 'extremely positive' despite last week's narrow first innings loss to GI Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst.
"The team is confident we can go all the way through and win the grand final," he said.
"There is good confidence in the side and we've felt all along we're the team to beat and I think the other sides recognise that.
"Apart from last week's hiccup we've gone through the competition with goals and generally achieved them.
"We've been a team of purpose. We're focused on what's ahead of us.
"We're very determined, the side has got depth right through the batting and bowling and for a team to beat us they'll need to be more intense."
Harwood will field an unchanged side to last week.
Munday added he was particularly happy to see Brothers make the finals series after the team's youth and rebuilding policy had proved fruitful.
Brothers captain Troy McLaren said Corey Bertalli would come in for Pat Vidler.
"We've had a couple of extra training sessions this week and we're quietly confident," McLaren said.
"We'll concentrate on our own game but obviously we've got plans for different players in Harwood.
"Everyone is keen and fired up.
"We've been guilty all season of failing to bat out our overs, that will be vital in this match."
McLaren said experienced bowler Ron Chaffey and young quick Stuart Jonker, as well as Matt Ryan and Sam Jackson with the bat were the team's key players.