North Ballarat is proving the surprise packet of the season following its 4-0 start to the season.
The Roosters forecast improvement pre-season, but the impressive start must of even caught them by surprise.
However, the case could be made they are yet to knock off a quality side, with wins against the bottom three sides (played Brown Hill twice). Nonetheless, it is full of confidence and is yet to put a foot wrong against its opponents, this week’s clash with Darley will be telling.
Captain Adam Eddy is rapt with the sides rapid development and given the rich form did not anticipate any changes to the side.
“The group’s growing really quickly, a lot quicker than I thought,” Eddy said.
Meanwhile, Darley will unveil its second Sri Lankan recruit as Anurudda Rajapaksha makes his debut.
The Lions sit fifth and will be looking to respond after a “really disappointing display” last week against Wendouree.
Captain Michael Alexander said this was a crucial match for the group, offering a great chance to claim a win over a side vying for similar ladder position.
“We just performed really poorly last week,” Alexander said.
“They’re playing really well...you can only beat who you play against – it’ll be a big challenge.”
BALLARAT-REDAN is yet to gain victory this season and is preparing to take on reigning premier Wendouree – but captain Jayden Hayes remains upbeat about its prospects.
Hayes knows it will be a tough season as the Combine blood some young talent and expose a number of players to first grade cricket.
Hayes conceded it had not really come close to victory as yet, but the mood around the club had not dropped.
Hayes remained positive and was focused on smaller goals as the group develops, while the fact its seconds were second on the ladder and thirds on top, gave the club the reassurance it has the cattle coming through the ranks to be successful.
“I think it will come, there will be some tough times,” Hayes said.
“Everyone’s got their role to play.”
Hayes said the key to making inroads towards a result this week was restricting Wendouree’s imposing batting line-up.
The Red Caps bounced back to form after two consecutive losses with a commanding display with the bat last week.
Centuries from Heath Pyke and Tom Le Lievre helped Wendouree to 288 runs against Darley.
However, Pyke is unavailable this week and will be replaced by talented batsmen Matt Smith meaning Cole Roscholler will keep wicket for the Red Caps.
GOLDEN Point is undefeated and on top of the ladder. It’s the start it was after, but it must maintain it.
Captain Josh White insists there is still areas to improve, but the Pointies are doing a lot right as the season unfolds positively for them. But White is conscious of the fact that a good start to the season does not guarantee a finals berth. Last season the Pointies entered the Christmas break on top of the ladder but fell away after the break to miss the finals.
White stressed consistency was key to retaining its position, particularly with the bat.
“To start the season with four wins is nice, so far it’s going to plan,” White said.
Napoleons-Sebastopol is yet to display the form that saw it surge into finals in the back-end of last season – with just one win next to its name thus far. However, White would not be taking Naps-Sebas lightly given the calibre of player their first XI possessed.
Napoleons-Sebastopol’s demons with the bat continue, 156 last week against the Roosters followed a 56 in the one-dayer against Golden Point. Disappointingly, the 304-run total against Brown Hill in round 3 is the only score over 160 for the season – it must improve that area if it is to gain victory. Naps-Sebas will have to find a way to score against the Golden Point attack, having made just 56 in its last two meetings.
Mt Clear skipper Darcy Thomson is well aware of what his former East Ballarat teammates are capable of.
The Hawks have been unable to string together their best form with the bat and ball on consecutive weekends this season, but if they do the Mounties know they will provide them with a significant headache.
MT CLEAR is coming off the bye and is one of a number of sides vying for early position within the top four rungs of the ladder.
Thomson said the key to this weekend would be putting pressure on East Ballarat from the first over and taking the upper hand.
Thomson felt East Ballarat’s batting was the weaker element of its game and would be hoping to expose that.
While the Mounties are likely to go in unchanged, Thomson said there were a number of players in the mix – adding to the top-order the main cause for discussion.
As for the Hawks, the importance of this game is not lost on captain Josh Brown.
Brown said the side took a lot of confidence from last week’s win over Brown Hill, successfully tracking down 235, with a number of players finding touch with the bat.
“If we win this game we’ll probably sneak back into the top four,” Brown said.
The return of former skipper Zac Thorne to the club and some key players from injury has helped.