SPEED TO BURN: Tucabia-Copmanhurst fast bowler Brad Chard comes up against his former Coutts Crossing team-mates in the CRCA Premier League minor semi-final at Ellem Oval today.
SPEED TO BURN: Tucabia-Copmanhurst fast bowler Brad Chard comes up against his former Coutts Crossing team-mates in the CRCA Premier League minor semi-final at Ellem Oval today.

It’s showtime in CRCA major semi-final

IT'S A classic showdown of youth versus experience.

Harwood has been there and done it all before.

Meanwhile, Brothers are the big improvers of 2015/16 and have an impressive record against the defending premiers having beaten them both times this season.

As minor premiers, Harwood rightly start the major semi-final at Harwood Oval today as favourites. But captain Tim McMahon knows there is plenty to do over the next two days to ensure a GDSC Premier League grand final berth. "In these games, you've got to value your wicket, bowl properly and take your catches," he said.

"Both times we've played them we haven't bowled well. We've spoken about their strengths and everyone's fired up. We've just got to counteract their enthusiasm."

While the taste of victory may not be as fresh on their lips, Brothers are not completely bereft of Premier League grand final experience. Andy Lancaster scored a hundred in the 2009-10 winning side, which also featured Troy McLaren, brothers Ryan and Jarrod Lynch and a youthful Jake Kroehnert as 12th man.

"A few of the boys have been there and done it, but we're still a young side," said McLaren, who is the only player over 30 in today's line-up.

"We just have to turn up and play our game, do the basic things right and the rest should go from there. I think we'll go well."

One man who will no doubt be itching to get his finals campaign off on the front foot is Doug Harris.

The all-rounder joined Harwood this season after a long spell of outs at GDSC Easts.

"I haven't played too much Saturday finals cricket so I'm looking forward to the challenge," Harris said.

"It's a little bit new for me, but all the Harwood boys have done it a hundred times before and are old

heads at it, so I'm sure they'll be able to steer me in the right direction."

Despite his surprising level of inexperience at this stage of a season, few will be surprised if Harris plays a leading role for Harwood.

Although one particular aspect he has enjoyed about the move is being able to play second fiddle to the likes of Ben McMahon.

The pair has dominated attacks together throughout the season, including two partnerships in excess of 150 runs. Unusually for the former Easts man, it's often the batsman at the other end doing the bulk of the scoring.

"We seem to complement each other," Harris said.

"Benny takes the pressure off me a little bit. I used to try to find balls that were not there to be hit. I've been able to adapt my game to Harwood and it's been good for me.

"It's nice to fly under the radar a little bit and accumulate runs quietly."

The prospect of those two coming together is particularly ominous, given finals are extended to 100 overs per day. A solid batting performance on day one can seriously take the game away from the opposition.

Westlawn captain Pat Vidler knows all too well how damaging they can be. Harris and McMahon both scored in the nineties when they put on 160 in round six.

Vidler, whose side finished fifth and missed the finals by three points, predicts Harwood to go all the way again this season.

"Personally, with Ben McMahon and Harris in the middle order, I think Harwood are the team to beat," Vidler said.

"They don't have that much of a bowling attack but if they bat first and bat the overs then they're virtually unbeatable."

However, Vidler did not want to rule out any of the other three contenders in what he sees as an otherwise evenly poised finals series.

"Brothers are a chance on their day," he said.

"I think their work ethic and enthusiasm gets them a long way.

"Tucabia have been hot and cold this year. They've definitely got the bowling attack, but I don't think they're playing as well at this time of the season as they have the last couple of years. For Coutts, they just need the big guns Luke Cox and Brandon Honeybrook to fire."

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