Injured Balgownie skipper Jamie Fleming believes his side’s big game experience gives them an edge over Wollongong in Saturday’s pre-Christmas showdown.
The two teams currently sit third and fourth on the table and Balgownie have been looking forward to this game for a number of weeks.
“Its a big game this weekend,” He said. “We’ve been one of the top teams for the last few years and Wollongong have brought in a lot of new players this season. Our guys have pointed them out as being number one contenders this year.
“But in saying that, Wollongong haven’t won a first grade premiership in over 20 years. They lack that experience of playing in big games, which is something we’ll want to take advantage of.
“They’re all good players, but they’re getting paid a lot of money to play park cricket where the prize money’s about $400 and we’ll be letting them hear about it when they come out to bat.”
Wollongong captain Dave Studholme hit back at Fleming, arguing his side has both the talent and experience to compete at the business end of the season.
“It’s pretty important,” Studholme said. “If we get a win on Saturday it puts us in a good position for the rest of the season. It should be a tough game, but if we play to our potential, I’m confident we can get the victory.
“There’ll be no pressure at all, we’ve got a lot of big name players in our team who can handle any pressure.”
Balgownie claimed a 26-run victory when the two teams clashed in round two of this season. Fleming was pleased with the way his team bowled during that match and is confident of a repeat effort. This weekend’s effort, however, has been hampered by the absence of Fleming and batsman Graeme Batty. Rob Fisher will take over as captain in Fleming’s absence.
“They’re pretty strong at the top of the order so we’ll have to be consistent with the areas we’re bowling,” Fleming said.
“I’m very confident though, they’re obviously a good team, but I think we are better.”
After bowling Balgownie out for 175, Wollongong were restricted to 149 and Studholme acknowledges his side will need to bat a lot better on Saturday.
“It was a bit of a disappointing game,” He said. “We were only chasing 175 for the win and didn’t get off to a good start, it’s a run chase we should have got.”
Saturday marks the final round of 50-over matches before the competition shifts into Tewnty20 mode over Christmas.
At Keira Village, Keira will be out to extend their unbeaten start to the season when they host Port Kembla. Nipping on Keira’s heels are Helensburgh, who have only lost won game this season. The Tigers host Northern Districts.
Port Kembla’s victory over University left Wests as the only team without a win and the Devils will be hoping to ensure they’re not left waiting for their breakthrough victory until the new year when they face Corrimal. Finally, University will be out to return to the winner’s circle when they take on Dapto.
Illawarra focus turns to Twenty20 competition
There will be very little time to rest for Illawarra’s cricketers, with the Twenty20 competition kicking into high gear on Sunday.
The teams haven’t played the shortest format of the game since the end of September but Sunday marks the first of four straight Twenty20 games.
In a case of scheduling fate, Balgownie and Wollongong will follow up Saturday’s 50-over match with a Twenty20 clash on Sunday.
The other Pool A matchup will see Mitch McCrae’s high-powered Helensburgh batting lineup face off against Corrimal. Corrimal will be desperate for victory after falling to Northern Districts in the opening round.
In another Saturday-Sunday double-header, University will return to Reed Park for the second straight day to play Dapto. In other Pool B action, Wests will be out to cause an upset when they host Keira.
The lone crossover match of the round will see Northern Districts out to make it two from two when they travel south to face Port Kembla.