Cricket Illawarra premiers Balgownie will chase maximum points when they take on Port Kembla on Saturday as they attempt to get their season back on track.
The Magpies’ struggles continued a week ago when they lost 4-2 to slump to a nine-run defeat to University and while other results may have helped their finals cause, they remain outside the top four.
Captain Graeme Batty views this week’s match against last-placed Port Kembla as a golden opportunity to return to form and pick up an outright victory in the second-last two-day match of the season.
“If we lose to Port Kembla I think I’ll give it away,” Batty said. “If we lose this week against one of the bottom teams, who got rolled for 40 last week, we don’t deserve to make the semis and be a contender.
“Our semi-finals start this week. We have to be going from ball one, the way we’ve been playing, we can’t take any team lightly.”
The Magpies season finishes with a two-day clash with University and 50-over match against current fourth-placed Corrimal, a fixture that could possibly act as a play-in match.
Batty is desperate to ensure his team is sitting inside the four when they take on the Cougars.
“We’ve got to capitalise on this opportunity and get outright points against Port Kembla. We can’t leave it to the last round against Corrimal, we need to take full advantage this week.
“Results have gone our way, we could easily be seventh or eighth and be out of it. With three games to go, we can still easily make the semis, but we don’t want to leave it up to the last round. The next two two-dayers are crucial in getting points.”
Balgownie’s batting woes continued last weekend, with the side bowled out for 124. Remarkably, seven batsmen failed to reach double figures, with Paul Lynam top-scoring with 27*.
Batty concedes last week’s batting effort was frustrating to watch, but he’s confident the side will turn in a much-improved batting performance against the Blacks.
“It wasn’t like they were blowing stumps out of the ground, they bowled a good length and on the stumps.
“We do have a lot of power hitters in our team, accumulation hasn’t been our strength, we like to go at a quick pace. Now that we’re chasing points, we have to play smarter and assess the conditions, which is something we haven’t done.”
Corrimal face a crucial round 12 match of their own, with the Cougars taking on University. Sitting just one point above the Magpies, Corrimal will be desperate to claim the victory and halt Uni’s finals charge.
University are currently seventh on the ladder, but just four points behind the Cougars.
Wollongong and Keira will both attempt to secure their top-four places when they face off, while Northern Districts are hoping to maintain their lead atop the ladder when they take on sixth-placed Wests.
Finally Helensburgh will host Dapto, with both sides needing a win to keep their slim finals chances alive.