Bulls take no chances against Wendouree

CAN Brown Hill and the biggest recruit of the season break Wendouree’s record five-flag streak?

Former Australian quick Shane Harwood created a name as the most feared bowler in the Ballarat Cricket Association club firsts when he joined the Bulls’ attack.

Harwood has taken 37 wickets from 10 matches, including two seven-wicket hauls and a six-wicket haul (one of each in a particularly destructive two innings against Napoleons-Sebastopol in round five).

Up against the Red Caps in this weekend’s two-day semi-final, Harwood is a somewhat unknown element.

He was out injured for a two-day match against the Red Caps in round four and captured 2-15 off six overs in a one-day in mid-January.

The Bulls enter this semi-final off a comfortable clash with Coronet City, which allowed them to fine-tune batting and bowling.

Harwood and pace tag-team partner Matt McMahon were relatively rested, confined to a few short overs each, to ensure they were fresh for finals.

Bulls’ skipper Jason Knowles wants to take no chances.

This is the Bulls’ first semi-final appearance in four years. They are vying to make their first final in six years and, in a sense, have come full circle to do so.

The Bulls’ last title match was against Wendouree in what was the first of the past five flags for the Red Caps.

“We’re pretty excited about playing finals again,” Knowles said.

“Everyone’s fit and ready.”

Wendouree has injected pace back into its line-up in a bid to match the Bulls.

Decorated quick Eamon Johnson returns from a hamstring strain that has sidelined him in the past two rounds.

Johnson nabbed 39 wickets in the first 10 rounds, including two five-fors and a 6-43 (against Brown Hill).

A proven finals performer, Johnson returns to the Red Caps team with Tim Beacham, who claimed five wickets in the seconds last round against North Ballarat.

In an interrupted season, Beacham made one appearance in the firsts, against East Ballarat, in which he claimed six wickets across two innings.

Batting will be a key focus for improvement for the Red Caps, particularly after lacklustre scores on a Wendouree deck with plenty of bite last round.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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