Talented batsmen vs the allrounder
WESTLAWN’S Jason Rainbow shoots from the hip and calls a spade a spade.
The talented gloveman doesn’t mind verbal exchanges from behind the stumps - to Rainbow it’s part and parcel with being a wicketkeeper.
And one thing for sure on Saturday is in the Premier League final against Brothers, Rainbow will do his best to unsettle the batsmen - starting with Brothers captain and allrounder Brad Robertson.
“Every time Robbo comes out to bat I go straight up to the stumps, he doesn’t like the chit-chat,” Rainbow says.
“Cricket is a mental game and I always remind him what happened last time I played him in a grand final when he lifted his foot and I stumped him. “It was a crucial stage in the match, and Robbo was playing for Souths. I stumped him down the leg side and it basically won us the grand final.”
A gifted cricketer at a young age Rainbow moved to Melbourne at 16 to further his career.
There he played second and then first grade with the Carlton Cricket Club. And if that wasn’t enough he signed up to play the off-season with the Waratahs in the strong Darwin competition. “I played two seasons in Melbourne and during the winter months played in Darwin. All up I played cricket continuously for five years,” he says.
While in Melbourne and Darwin Rainbow played with and against some quality cricketers and worked with Ian Callen shaping cricket bats.
“I got a sponsorship with Ian Callen cricket and was coached by Ian, Paul Hibbert and Jeff Moss. The players gave them a hard time as all three were one-test-wonders,” he laughs. “Darwin was a very strong competition with plenty of quality players. Shane Bond, Matthew Sinclair, Brendon McCullum and Matthew Elliott all played in the competition. It was interesting keeping to Shane Bond...he was very quick.”
Rainbow returned to Grafton in 2002 and has always played his cricket with Westlawn - a club he has enormous passion for. He admits the standard of cricket in the Premier League may have dropped in recent years, but said it’s up to the more experienced players to pass on their knowledge.
“The competition has definitely got weaker over the years. Players of the calibre of Greg Firth, Mick Morris, John Frame and Mark Curry were all quality cricketers and we need more young cricketers to step up,” he says. “I’m very impressed with Dan Collins from Coutts who has a lot of potential with the ball...he’s an untapped talent.”
The battle between Westlawn and Brothers in tomorrow’s decider promises to be a cracker and Rainbow has no hesitation when it comes to telling it how he sees it.
“Brothers have no superstars in the side but are all decent cricketers. They are a young cocky team but I feel they might lack leadership,” he says. “They need an experienced leader like Troy McLaren or someone astute like Mick Summers. Mick should be captain; he’s the thinking man’s cricketer.” Grand finals are different to regular season games and according to Rainbow all the pressure will be on the Brethren
“Grand finals are pressure situations and over half the Westlawn team have won multiple finals. The pressure doesn’t faze us as we have proved this year when we have been under the gun,” Rainbow adds. “My question is: ‘when the game is on the line have the young Brothers players got what it takes to handle the pressure?’.”
Rainbow says the two form sides in the competition should provide a showpiece event over the two days. Batting up the order Rainbow is a potential match-winner but at times goes too hard at the ball in an attempt to score quick runs. The number four bat says he has no intention in changing his cavalier style - not even in a grand final.
“I know a lot of people have said I should change the way I bat...play with a straight bat...but if it comes off it comes off,” he says. “I still have my keeping to make up for it.”
And keep he can. A class gloveman who stands up to the stumps to the likes of Rohan Hackett and Matt Lobsey, Rainbow will ensure the Brothers’ batsmen remain firmly in their crease. “I love standing up to the stumps and talking to the batsmen, giving them advice on their weaknesses...what they should be doing with the ball,” he says. It’s a pity we don’t have access to stump microphones as it would be entertaining listening.
“Cricket is a mental game and I always remind him what happened last time I played him in a grand final when he lifted his foot and I stumped him.”
Who: Brothers v Westlawn
Where: Ellem Oval
When: Saturday and Sunday