Matches in the balance, coping with the Sunday fixture | BCA previews

Mt Clear needs 37 runs to claim first innings points against Ballarat-Redan – but the equation is much more complex than it seems.

Given the Mounties will return to the field for Sunday’s one-day clash with Wendouree, while Ballarat-Redan has a bye, how Saturday pans out will be decided with an eye to Sunday. 

Captain Darcy Thomson stressed the first priority was get the 37 runs when it resumes at 4-73, but the tougher decisions will come if it can gain a likely victory.

Under normal circumstances, Mt Clear would most likely look to bat a reasonable portion of the day and put the Combine back in in search of outright victory. Thomson said it was likely it would do that if it can track down the winning runs comfortably, but he said there would be an option to finish the day early in order to stay fresh for Sunday – the main factor in the decision will be the condition of the pitch.

“It isn’t ideal (to play back-to-back days),” Thomson said.

“The first priority is to get the win...but we’ve got to keep an eye on Sunday.”

Pakistani bowler Umer Qureshi will miss with an injured hamstring.

Ballarat-Redan will be hoping for early wickets to put the pressure on, before turning its attention to Golden Point in round five after its bye.

EARLY wickets will be the order of the day for East Ballarat.

The Hawks could only manage 119 runs against Darley last Saturday, but a fired-up East Ballarat attack steamed in for 22 overs before stumps and had the Lions on the back foot at 2-27.

It will have to bring similar heat from ball one this Saturday if it is to defend the lowly total. Both captains agreed it was tough to make runs, but Hawks skipper Josh Brown felt his side approached the innings too defensively.

There will be no holding back this week in a match-up that means plenty for two finals contenders.

“It was tough to bat on last week,” Brown said.

“The bowlers will be keen to take some wickets...I think we’ll need two or three in the first 15 overs to really put the pressure on.

“It’s important to win this game for both sides.”

Darley captain Michael Alexander said it would’ve been ideal to enter Saturday with 10 wickets in hand, but this week will provide an opportunity for the batting group to stand up.

Stephen O'Loughlin

Stephen O'Loughlin

Ryan Ali (nine runs) and Brad Barnes (seven runs) will take to the crease.

Both East Ballarat and Darley are two of four clubs not having to play on back-to-back days across the weekend. 

However, Brown said some of the first XI would play in Sunday’s second grade one-day clash against North Ballarat.

Brown Hill is faced with an imposing task of chasing down Napoleons-Sebastopol 304, but captain Ryan Knowles is confident it can be done.

Knowles described the Western Oval pitch as a “road” and felt if his side could bat the 80 overs the game was for grabs.

“It’s definitely gettable,” Knowles said.

“We just have to bat the 80 overs like they did and we saw how quick runs could be scored.”

BROWN Hill fell short in its pursuit of North Ballarat’s 284 last round and will be looking to make a conservative start to keep wickets in hand with the knowledge the run rate can be easily picked up after tea.

The Bulls will return on Sunday for a one-day hit-out with North Ballarat.

Brown Hill will make at least two changes to the side with Tim Knowles and Cam Inglis to be included.

As for Naps-Sebas, its bowlers face an arduous weekend.

After winning the toss and batting, and batting well. The downside to that given the fixturing is that some bowlers may be facing upward of 30 overs for the weekend.

Captain Matt Ringin was mindful of this but knew batting was the right call, even if it meant a trying weekend as it prepares to face Golden Point in its one-dayer.

English recruit Ryan Gibson, an all-rounder, will make his debut for the club on Sunday.

GOLDEN Point looks favoured to chase down Wendouree’s 222.

If it can reel in the total, the Pointies will inflict the first loss upon the Red Caps.

Adding to the anticipation is the unveiling of two recruits who are expected to have a big impact.

Tharanga Fernando, who joined the club from Sunshine, bowled last week – taking one wicket – but he is also a very capable batsmen. While Manjula De Zoysa promises to be the main batting threat.

The Sri Lankan has played 110 first-class matches in his home country and at one stage was on the verge of national selection. 

The stage is set for these two recruits to have immediate impact in a huge game.

Golden Point will then have to back-up and play in Sunday’s one-day fixture, taking on Napoleons-Sebastopol. Captain Josh White anticipated minimal change between Saturday’s line-up and the one for the shorter form.

Wendouree captain Gavin Webb felt it would require an outstanding bowling display to defend a total that he believed was below expectation.

The Red Caps will also play on Sunday, facing Mt Clear for the second time in two rounds. Wendouree were too strong for the Mounties in round two, but both sides are expected to feature in the upper rungs of the ladder and Sunday will be another test.