Illawarra Flames head to Regional Bash with opportunity to book date with SCG

The Illawarra Flames will travel to Maitland on the weekend with a burning desire to put last year’s disappointing Regional Bash performance to bed.

The Flames were eliminated in the opening round of the competition last year and captain Mitch Calder expects his team to deliver an improved showing this year.

“After an ordinary performance last year, we’re committed to doing better this year and playing for a bit of pride. We’ll be more than happy if we can get a number of wins up.” Calder said.

An impressive showing in the weekend’s matches could lead to individual representative honours, but most players are eyeing off the chance to play on the SCG.

“Some good performances here can lead to selection in the Kingsgrove Cup or if there are some standout individual performances those players could be looking at selection in the Sixers or Thunder academies.” 

“The more lucrative result for us is if we do play well in this round robin then we get the chance to play on the SCG, which would be a dream dome true for a number of players on the team.”

The representative side will face off with teams from the Central Coast and Hunter across three matches on Saturday and Sunday.  

The Flames will book a place in the semi-finals at the SCG if they finish atop the four team group after this weekend’s round robin phase. 

Big ambitions: The Illawarra Flames are hoping to book a trip to the SCG with a strong showing at the Regional Bash. Picture: Robert Peet

Big ambitions: The Illawarra Flames are hoping to book a trip to the SCG with a strong showing at the Regional Bash. Picture: Robert Peet

Calder believes that the team’s batting depth will enable the Flames to play with an attacking mindset and set imposing targets for their opponents. 

“We’ve got the calibre of players to score some big totals and put the pressure on the opposition.”

“We’re going to be playing against some good cricketers and on some fast tracks, so we’ll use a combination of aggressive batting and disciplined bowling with some clever fielding positions to try and restrict the totals of the other sides.”

The Illawarra side completed their preparation by recording a three wicket victory over the Campbelltown-Camden Ghosts on Wednesday night and Calder was pleased with the way his side played against a quality opponent.

“Generally across the board the batting was quite strong, we’ve got a very powerful batting lineup and it was good to see everyone chimed in with some very aggressive cricket.”

The representative weekend comes as the Illawarra grade competition enters its second week of 50-over matches.

Calder’s University are hosting Dapto in a clash between two unbeatens and he is confident his side can knock off the defending premiers.

“I think both sides are missing a few players who are away with the Flames, but I’m quite confident with the University side. We’ve recruited a couple of guys from the country who have performed quite well.

“We haven’t quite hit our straps yet but we have a strong side and I’m very confident that with guys missing the remainder will perform well and hopefully get the win over last year’s premiers.”

Illawarra Cricket

Round two

11.30am: NORTHERN DISTRICTS v HELENSBURGH at Hollymount, UNIVERSITY v DAPTO at University Oval, PORT KEMBLA v KEIRA at King George V Oval, BALGOWNIE v WOLLONGONG at Judy Masters Oval, WESTS v CORRIMAL at Figtree.

Regional Bash Twenty20

Saturday 2pm: ILLAWARRA FLAMES v HUNTER HITMEN at Robins Oval, Maitland

Sunday 9.30am: ILLAWARRA FLAMES v NEWCASTLE BLASTERS at Robins Oval, Maitland

Sunday 1.30pm: ILLAWARRA FLAMES v CENTRAL COAST RUSH at Lorn Park, Maitland