It's anybody's comp
THE PREMIER League cricket competition has reached the halfway mark of the season and still it is unclear which teams will feature in the finals series.
The recent one-day matches have suited some teams and caused others to rethink their approach to the shortened version of the game.
The competition resumes on January 9 with three 40-over games, then reverts to the standard two-day format prior to the finals.
Let’s look at each team’s performance so far and their chances of making this season’s grand final.
Most pundits believe they are the team to beat and it is hard to disagree.
They have experience and boast a strong batting line-up. A danger sign for opposition sides is the recent form with the bat of Matt Pigg, who has been out of sorts for most of the season but with a recent 50 against Westlawn he showed positive signs that his batting is back on track.
Captain Chris Adamson has been a revelation with the bat this year in the middle-order and with Brendan Mitchell and Tom Cootes their bowling attack is as good as any other side in the competition.
Complacency could be the only hurdle Tucabia may face and their recent loss to Westlawn proved they are in no way infallible.
Definite ‘smokies’ of the competition who on their day have the ability and arsenal to defeat any side.
With all players on deck they can go all the way. A lot will depend on their batsmen who so far this season have not delivered, apart from captain Brendan Purser. If Purser fails, panic appears to set in, which is odd considering the quality of players. Daniel Amos needs to fire up the order and Jason Rainbow can be a match winner if he applies himself. Bowling is not an issue with Matt Lobsey and John Blanch being genuine wicket takers. The mystery surrounding their spearhead, Rohan Hackett, has caused plenty of discussion this year. Hackett bowls in excess of 130km/h and is yet to claim a bag full of wickets.
Are always there-a-bouts come finals time. A team that seems to gel under the astute captaincy of Tim McMahon. They do have the advantage of playing most games at home, which opposition teams have questioned. Not many sides head down river and come away with the points. Do not have the luxury of a genuine match winner apart from opener Geoff Simmons but have a well-balanced side. Nathan Ensbey has found form with both bat and ball and his all-round ability is a huge plus for McMahon. If Harwood do reach the finals it will be interesting to see how they handle the travel.
Like Westlawn, they have snuck under the radar and have put opposition sides on notice that they are the real deal. They have been slowly working their way up the ladder and if their batsmen can remain focused and patient they could snare a finals berth. They are one-day specialists and will need to knuckle down in the two-day games. Plenty of guys who can turn a game. Matt Kroehnert and Brett O’Connor can destroy most bowling attacks with their big hitting. On the negative side, the loss of Greg Mears through shoulder surgery will be a huge blow.
Have been disappointing so far with inconsistent showings. Have found it difficult to post decent scores and need to put more emphasis on batting partnerships. Andrew Lancaster has got several starts this season but has not gone on with it. Captain Brad Robertson has been hot and cold with the bat but one feels a big score is just around the corner. Seb Dalton has matured as a batsman and has held their middle order together.
With the ball, Ryan Lynch has been a standout and Troy McLaren and Robertson have continually picked up crucial wickets.
Have not lived up to expectations. Have struggled at times to reach competitive totals although earlier in the season they posted scores above 200 on the back of some class batting by Tom Kroehnert and Brett Woods. Their batsmen like to move things along and hate getting bogged down, which can be their downfall. Manish Verma, bowling his well-flighted off-breaks, is up there with the leading wicket-takers and Zac Page and Brendan Cleaver have at times caused opposing batsmen trouble. Are not out of contention yet but do need to knuckle down and value their wickets.
Just when you think they’re finding form they put in a poor performance through ill-discipline with the bat or shoddy fielding. Their success stems from their captain Doug Harris, who has been the mainstay with the bat so far. Nick Ada oozes class with both bat and ball and if the other players chip in Easts can make a late charge and cement fourth spot. On the positive, Easts are a young side who are enjoying their cricket and if they can gain some much-needed confidence they have the ability to upset the sides above them.
Their step up to Premier League has not been an easy transition. An inexperienced side who have been struggling to find a win. Can only get better as the competition progresses and have a natural leader in Tim Tilse. Tilse has remained confident all season and not allowed his team to drop their bundle. Brad Chard has bowled some devastating spells and along with Dan Collins they have turned into a lethal combination. Nick Wood and Lance Chevalley have shown glimpses of form with the bat but they need someone to lead the way – Ken Willis, maybe.