With just five matches remaining in the season, Helensburgh will adopt a must-win approach when the Cricket Illawarra competition-proper resumes on Saturday.
Currently sitting in eighth on the ladder, the 2018 grand finalists must significantly improve their form throughout the second half of the season if they are to return to the semi-finals.
The Tigers have won just two matches thus far and captain Mitch McCrae acknowledges his team must improve in all facets of the game, starting with Saturday’s match against Corrimal.
“We have to win nearly every game now if we want to be a chance of making the semi-finals,” McCrae said. “We’ve put ourselves in this position and the only thing we can do now is try to win as many games as possible.”
“I see no reason why we can’t do it though. The couple of games we’ve won, we’ve beaten the better sides, we just haven’t seemed to be able to do it every week. With the side we’ve got, we’re still strong when everyone’s there, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it.”
Like many teams throughout the first half of the season, Helensburgh have been affected by the absence of players for a number of matches. That, McCrae feels, has contributed to the team’s inconsistent performances.
However, with the busy Christmas season now in the rear-view mirror, McCrae is looking forward to putting the same 11 players on the field for multiple matches. If they are able to achieve that consistent lineup, he’s confident the side will be able to achieve consistent results.
“We just haven’t had the same players every week. Getting numbers to training hasn’t been the best and that has translated onto the field.
“Most people are here for the remainder of the season, so hopefully we can get the same team every week. It makes it so much easier, especially with the batting lineup, which is the area we’ve struggled the most.
“Having the same batting lineup every week makes it a lot easier, especially with your mindset if you know where you’re batting every week, rather than chopping and changing.”
While the Tigers may be desperate to win this two-day fixture against Corrimal, they recognise it won’t be an easy encounter. The Cougars claimed a seven-run victory when the two sides clashed in a one-day fixture in round three.
“They’ve got a pretty well-balanced team. Medium-pacers that have improved a lot over the years and Xavier McDevitt who ties up one end. A few of their young guys have been scoring runs as well.
“Nothing really changes for us, we’ve just got to try and bat well and build partnerships, which we can’t seem to do. Last time we played, we were 6-100 chasing 117 and lost four wickets, so we need to bat well in partnerships.”
Saturday’s other matches will see competition leaders Wollongong take on Wests and Dapto host University. Two top-four teams will do battle when Balgownie face Northern Districts, while Keira will play Port Kembla.