Helensburgh prepare for Keira in Cricket Illawarra semi-final

Key figure: Keira bowler Nick Bell will be out to remove Mitch McCrae before he can score another century. Picture: Robert Peet.
Key figure: Keira bowler Nick Bell will be out to remove Mitch McCrae before he can score another century. Picture: Robert Peet.

Helensburgh captain Mitch McCrae is confident his team will overcome recent finals wobbles in this weekend’s semi-final against Keira.

The Tigers have won just two of ten finals matches played since 2014, however McCrae is not concerned his side will be overawed by the occasion.

“Most of us have played semi-finals or finals before,” he said. “Whether it be Twenty20 or one-day competitions, most of us have played finals, so in terms of experience, we should be right.”

Despite the poor finals record, Helensburgh holds the upper-hand heading into the match, having finished second on the ladder and comfortably defeating Keira just two weeks ago.

After scoring 6-300 with the bat, the Tigers bowlers, led by Tim Lloyd (5-35), bowled Keira out for 67 to secure the win.

McCrae, however, knows finals cricket is a different kettle of fish and the recent win will have no bearing on this weekend’s match.

“It seems like a long time ago really. The wicket seamed around a little bit, so it’s going to be a different game this weekend with the wicket being a bit flatter.

“They’ve got a good batting lineup as well, on a good wicket I think they’re going to be a lot harder to get out. We’ll have to bowl pretty well from both ends to get them out.”

Keira captain Kyle Connor is confident the poor performance from a fortnight ago was a one-off and is expecting a much improved display this time around.

“To start off the match,we probably didn’t bowl as well as we should have,” Connor said. “The other boys have acknowledged we could have bowled better areas and been more consistent. We were one seamer down, so we’ll go back to three seamers and a spinner.

“Batting wise, it’s going to be a completely different pitch to what we batted on at Rex Jackson. It’s going to be a completely different game, we’ll just worry about doing the basics right, taking our catches, and hopefully it’ll go our way.”

This weekend’s match will take place at Figtree Oval, a venue Helensburgh were fortunate enough to play at in last week’s victory over Wests. McCrae is expecting a wicket that will play into the hands of his spinners. 

“It’s really slow and low,” McCrae said. “Towards the end of last week the ball was almost rolling through to the ‘keeper. You’ve just got to make sure you play straight on those sorts of wickets. It might be a medium-pacer, spinner-type wicket.”

Helensburgh’s recent victory over Keira was fueled by a stunning McCrae 161 and Connor is fully aware of the value McCrae’s wicket holds. The opening batsman finished the season with 716 runs at an average of 55.1 after adding a further 95 runs to his tally last Saturday.

“He’s a class batsmen,” Connor said. “He’s got bulk runs this year, we’ve just got to worry about our own game, bowl good areas and try take those chances. Cricket’s a funny game and anything can happen, especially in semis with the added pressure.”


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