Wendouree is treating this weekend’s clash with Brown Hill as a full dress rehearsal for finals as it unveils its best line-up for the season.
Liam Brady returns to the side as young leg-spinner Ben Evans makes way.
The Red Caps have a bye in the final round of the home and away season making this two-dayer its last opportunity to get out in the middle before its finals campaign.
Captain Gavin Webb was excited to roll-out such a quality line-up, with this week being the first round it has not had any players unavailable.
“This is it...this will be a full dress rehearsal and our best side we’ve put out for the season,” Webb said.
Wendouree will be keen to get back into some red ball cricket having played three one-dayers to start 2018 (day one of its two-day match with East Ballarat was washed out).
But Webb was well aware Brown Hill will be pushing hard for its first victory of the season.
Webb said while his side took the upper hand with experience, the Bulls had plenty of top-end talent which it had to be mindful of. Wendouree currently sits second on the ladder, but does have an extra game on the rest of the competition.
Gaining the six points against Brown Hill will be crucial to it staying in the top two.
FOR Golden Point, the gameplan and mindset does not change despite its spot in the final four being locked in.
There is always a temptation to try a couple of things or hold your cards closer to your chest, but captain Josh White said Saturday’s two-day clash with Mt Clear was no different to any other game. White said the plan, as it has been all season, was to finish as high as possible.
“It’s nice to be comfortable at the moment, but we want to stay on top so we’ll try and keep winning,” White said.
“We’re not going to change the way we play from what got us in this position.”
Golden Point have been fortunate to of kept a stable line-up for the whole season, meaning its depth is strong and positions within the first XI are being hotly-contested.
White said there were still a few spots in the side that could change depending on form and opposition, therefore there was plenty to play for.
While the Pointies may be undefeated, Mt Clear skipper Darcy Thomson said his group will enter the defining clash with confidence.
The Mounties sit third on the ladder, 12 points clear of fifth, as they look to cement their spot in the top four.
Thomson said it would have to be at its best to knock-off the ladder leader given it had such an even spread of quality throughout its side.
Grant Trevenen will return to Mt Clear’s line-up.
DISAPPOINTMENT remains from East Ballarat’s 120-run loss to Golden Point last week, but its finals hopes remain alive.
But if the Hawks are to give themselves a chance, they will have to win their final two matches and hope for a couple of results, but it must start with victory over fourth-placed North Ballarat this week.
In essence, East Ballarat is gunning for the Roosters position in the four, who have lost its last two matches. The Hawks are 12 points behind North Ballarat and will have to defeat the inform Ballarat-Redan in the final round and the Roosters lose to Golden Point – even then it will come down to percentage.
However, equations will mean nothing if it cannot keep itself alive by defeating North Ballarat.
East Ballarat will be without Tristan Dixon and Nick Waldie, who are both injured, leaving a sizeable hole in the side, it will require others to fill the void.
Captain Josh Brown said it was good to still be in contention at the business end of the season, but clearly would have liked to have more control over its fate.
“We’re definitely a chance, hopefully more than a chance,” Brown said.
The consistent theme for East Ballarat this season has been inconsistency within matches.
For North Ballarat, it has fallen from top spot and will be eager to deny the Hawks.
AT THE Christmas break, Ballarat-Redan was without a win and seemingly heading towards another finish at the bottom rungs of the ladder.
But three wins on the trot has seen it shoot up to fifth and unbelievably an outside chance for finals.
The youthful Combine had shown promising signs, but the results were not coming, yet it is now one of the inform teams of the competition.
However, the next two weekends against Darley, which is level on points with Ballarat-Redan, will be telling. The Combine’s wins have come against Brown Hill, Napoleons-Sebastopol and Brown Hill once more – sides that have just one win between them.
The Lions will provide a true test, a side that will want to keep it finals hopes, albeit slim, alive.
Combine captain Jayden Hayes said his group would look to take the confidence it has built in recent weeks to Darley Park in a bid to claim its biggest scalp of the season.
“We want to finish as high as possible,” Hayes said.
“It’s a tough trip to Darley, so it’ll show our confidence and our improvement in how we go.”
Darley enjoyed a strong showing in Sunday’s one-dayer against Mt Clear. After having the bye on Saturday, the Lions delivered in what was a must-win encounter – bowling its way to an impressive 63-run win.