By Trevor Jackson
SOUTH Gambier would be one side rightly disappointed with its 2019-20 Barber Shield cricket result.
The Demons finished in second place after the minor rounds and looked in the box seat against East Gambier in the semi-final.
South batted first and despite a couple of top-order failures, a solid middle-order effort set East a target of 149 for victory.
The Demons had the Bulldogs on the ropes, but as it panned out an impressive captain’s knock from Dion Stratford and a timely 20 from Ben Clarke took East to victory and a grand final berth.
For South it was mothballs and time to ponder on what went wrong.
This season will most certainly be about atonement, with Blue Lake Sports Park a hive of activity as the season has approached.
James Dunn has taken the reins as captain and is confident his players are in the right frame of mind to go one better this season.
“We are tracking along quite well and have had a good pre-season,” he said.
“We have a couple of little things to improve on from last season and hopefully we can get into the grand final and win it from there.”
Dunn said last season’s result was certainly disappointing but with some minor changes hopes to turn those fortunes around.
That includes each player working on certain areas of their games, with the little things set to make a big difference.
“I think it is just doing little things better, putting plans in place and executing the plans for each player,” Dunn said.
“I think if we give players roles and try to guide them in the right direction rather than just go out and bat, it will resonate with people.
“They can be a bit more focused on developing certain areas of their games.”
Much of the success will rely on the same lineup from last season, with Dunn himself expected to settle into more of a batting role and the majority of the side showing plenty of experience.
However, some pitfalls in recent years have revolved around the reliance on certain players, which Dunn said needs to change, which seems quite simple in theory.
“We have Dave Somerfield in our team but we can’t just rely on him to make runs every week,” he said.
“Other players need to step in as well – it is about taking the opportunities when they come up.
“If we are 4/20 in one game our number six needs to step in and do the job.
“With the ball, if Robbie Drenthen is getting smacked around, someone else has to step in and take his spot.”
It is also about the experienced heads setting the tone, but runs right through the squad.
“You just can’t buy experience,” Dunn said.
“If you have a few more mature people in the team and we do get into trouble, it helps but it is also developing those younger kids to get those experiences as well.
“We have a pretty consistent side and I think that is also where we can get some success.”
A healthy mix of age and experience across the board is certainly something Dunn looks forward to guiding through the season.
However, he said it needs to transfer from paper to grass.
“We have a pretty talented side,” he said.
“It is all well and good to be talented on paper, but we have to perform.”
South has a tough task first up with West Gambier at Malseed Park.
Dunn expects a tough contest from the word go.
“In a competition with only six teams there is no easy game,“ he said.
“Everyone knows each other and generally they know their strengths and weaknesses.
“West has a pretty good side so it will be a tough game first up.“