EAST GAMBIER v SOUTH GAMBIER
THE 2019-20 Mount Gambier and District Cricket Association minor-round season will finish in style tomorrow, with three evenly-matched contests on the fixture.
After last week’s wash out, the three scheduled two-day games are now shortened to 40-overs-per-side contests with a red ball in action.
Despite the top-four spots on the ladder already being confirmed, there is still plenty on the line with the chance to claim a lucrative home semi-final.
Two of the leading contenders are East and South Gambier, who meet at Scott Park.
The Bulldogs have been the most improved side this season after confirming their first finals berth in three years.
New-captain Alex Hentschke has galvanised his group to become a formidable force with a number of well-rounded players.
His predecessor Dion Stratford has been the man leading the charge after striking successive centuries.
Since he was last dismissed, Stratford has scored 211 runs from just 153 balls.
These are scary numbers for the Demons, who must find a way to beat the bat of the classy right-hander.
But with the likes of Robert Drenthen, Adam Kuhl, Daniel Loupos and Camron Jorgensen, South believes it has the quality to trouble Stratford.
However, the attack must also focus on Darren Whitehorn, Matthew Hastings, Ben Hentschke and Nathan Gore after they made valuable contributions to ensure East won the last encounter between the pair.
In that round-five match, six different bowling options took a wicket for the Bulldogs and many of them will return to hunt as a pack once again.
Alex Hentschke and Ben Clark have been the new-ball weapons, while spin-twins Emerson Marks and Ben Hentschke are difficult to attack.
But South captain David Somerfield would believe he has the firepower with the bat to post a significant total.
Somerfield scored a match-winning 72 not out last time he faced East and he would hope names such as Josh Thompson and David Vine can make a similar impact.
Despite maintaining a high standard, the Demons will be keen to return to the winner’s circle after consecutive defeats, while the Bulldogs are hungry to score a hat-trick of victories.
With the two sides carrying contrasting form into the game, the result could play a major role in their respective finals campaigns.
NORTH SPORTSMAN’S v PENOLA
THE two form sides of the 2019-20 Barber Shield will face off in the final round of the season at Marist Park tomorrow.
Both North Sportsman’s and Penola have enjoyed a flawless return from the Christmas break with a string of strong performances.
The pair fly into the one-day fixture off the back of three consecutive wins and will be desperate to keep the momentum rolling towards finals.
The Tigers feel confident playing on home turf and hope to maintain an unbeaten record at the picturesque venue.
North’s bowling attack has fronted the side’s success with a number of tight displays.
Nick McInerney, Tim Young, Declan Kenny and Elliott Fisher have made a habit of defending small totals lately and they hold the key to their side’s chances.
Last round the group was tested to the maximum by South Gambier, but the Tigers held their nerve to score a one-run win.
North has also shown improvement with the bat recently, largely thanks to Jake Schutz.
Schutz has led from the front at the top of the order with scores of 85 and 79 in his last two games.
But the pressure will be on the rest of the Tigers batting order to support the opener.
Kieran Ashby is the only other player to score a milestone this season and the Eagles will be keen to clean up the reigning premiers for a second time in as many games.
In the previous clash between the pair, Michael Waters, Logan Gibbs, Curt Evans and Conrad Slabber had a field day to bowl out North for a meagre 92.
George Kidman can also be thrown into the mix after his fine all-round performance last round.
The off-spinner claimed 5/20 after he smashed a quick-fire 44 against Mil Lel.
Kidman has also scored a half century facing North and he will be confident to make another impact.
Other batsmen to look out for are Mark Smith and Jack Mullan.
Smith smashed his top score of the season in his latest appearance at the crease with 72, while Mullan has compiled 166 runs in his last three innings.
With a home final up for grabs, a high-quality contest between bat and ball could unfold.
WEST GAMBIER v MIL LEL
WEST Gambier and Mil Lel will strap the pads on for the final time this Barber Shield season, when the pair meet for a one-day cricket clash at Malseed Park tomorrow.
Despite the pair’s respective finals hopes now gone, there is still plenty of pride at stake.
Neither side has won its past three encounters and captains Richard Crute and Jack Miller will be desperate to finish a disappointing campaign on a high to avoid the wooden spoon.
The favourites tag belongs to the home team, after the two-day game was rescheduled to a 40-overs-per-side fixture due to rain.
The Roos enjoy a much stronger limited-overs record with their only two wins this season in the short format.
One of those triumphs includes a victory against Mil Lel, which has not won a one-day game this summer.
These records give Crute confidence, but he is aware of his team’s sudden slide.
West punched above its weight during a promising start to the season and was well positioned after five rounds.
However, the Roos have failed to recover from a tough outright defeat to South Gambier and have lost their last four matches.
But Crute can draw confidence from the round-five clash against Mil Lel, which was his side’s high-point of the season.
He led the team to its highest score of the season with a crushing 141 off 96 balls, while West’s best bowler in 2019-20 Sam Willis claimed a six-wicket haul.
Mil Lel will seek revenge from that encounter and Miller will hope his men can rediscover their touch with the bat.
After a solid and consistent season, Mil Lel was knocked over for the first time in double figures last round against Penola.
But with several solid totals behind them, the likes of Daniel Justin, Paul Harding and Craig Lock will be keen to make one last impression at the crease.
Mil Lel’s bowling attack has often proved to be the weakness by allowing a batsmen to score a century in four of the past five games.
Ben Thiel, Jonathan Allcock and Tom Nieuwerkerk will be sick of conceding large scores and hope to take a bag of wickets.
After a disappointing finish to the season, both sides will give it their all for one last time.