Harwood’s batsmen, like Greg Firth, could be put to the test against Wetlawn at Ellem Oval today.
Harwood’s batsmen, like Greg Firth, could be put to the test against Wetlawn at Ellem Oval today.

Harwood ventures into the unknown

THE PICTURESQUE Ellem Oval with its imposing tree line rising above the white picket fence could play a major role in today’s major semi between Westlawn and Harwood.

Considered a home ground by the Westlawn Club and named after the well-known cricketing family the Ellems, the venue for today’s game is unfamiliar territory for the lads from down river.

“We haven’t played in Grafton this year so I’m not sure how the wicket will play,” a straight-forward Harwood captain Tim McMahon said yesterday.

One thing for sure is if there is any juice in the wicket the Westlawn bowlers are the best-equipped side to take advantage of the conditions.

Harwood batsmen will face a difficult task against arguably the best bowling attack in the Premier League. Spearheaded by Rohan Hackett and his partner in crime Matt Lobsey, Westlawn have an opening pair more than capable of running through a top order.

And let’s not forget the man of the moment John Blanch who has proved almost unplayable on wickets which provide sideways movement.

McMahon knows what it takes to win finals cricket and has named a full strength side with the exception of Craig Moran, who is overseas.

“Craig is out and we have included Greg Firth into the side to bolster the middle-order. Peter Hickey is also available and his accurate cutters will be handy,” McMahon said.

“Westlawn’s strength is their bowling and they have four or five bats who are dangerous. I’ve told the guys there is a way to play John Blanch and a way not to play him.

“Finals cricket is different altogether and we need to apply pressure and take our catches.”

Westlawn have suffered a blow going into the game, losing first-change bowler Nathan Blanch due to work commitments.

Luke Chard has been called into the side and according to Westlawn’s Tony Blanch he may play an important role with his tidy leg spin.

Blanch said the main concern for his side would be dismissing Harwood cheaply.

“Harwood are a very strong and consistent batting side who seem to be able to bat out their 100 overs in semi-finals,” he said.

“Luke Harradine and Nathan Ensbey will bat around their aggressive bats like Geoff Simmons, Mark Ensbey and Greg Firth.”

Blanch added it was critical for his batsmen to see out Harwood’s opening pair of Kane Aeschlimann and Mark Vallette.

“We can’t allow Aeschlimann or Vallette to break through our top order...we have to see them off,” he said.

“We need to occupy the crease and not throw our wickets away with over-aggressive batting.”

If the rain stays away and the pitch has time to dry out Westlawn’s pace demon Hackett could come into his own.

“The pitch is looking great and if there is any bounce in it Rohan will be very hard to handle. I know a few Harwood guys are not that comfortable against genuine pace...especially if the ball is searing around their heads.”

“Finals cricket is different altogether and we need to apply pressure and take our catches.”



OUT OF TOUCH: Contractors slam Pavey response

OUT OF TOUCH: Contractors slam Pavey response

Highway sub-contractors unhappy with minister's response

2018 Anzac Day Services in the Clarence Valley

2018 Anzac Day Services in the Clarence Valley

List of Anzac Day Services in the Valley

Local Partners