Orange's slow summer

CHRISTMAS has come and gone for another year and, for the sake of the Orange District Cricket Association, let’s hope Santa managed to squeeze a few new bats down the chimney last Monday night.

At the half-way mark of the summer, just one batsman has passed triples figures.

Orange CYMS recruit Luke Clarke is the only batsman to nudge past the elusive 100 mark prior to Christmas, with the dashing right hander’s knock of 105 not out against defending premiers Centrals the lone ton for the season thus far.

Before that, there was just one century in 2011-12 too.

Clarke is also the season’s leading run scorer with 231 runs at a touch under 58, with Cavalier Stu Middleton the next best with 223 runs at 55 apiece.

The bat has struggled in the ODCA, no doubt.

The bowlers, however, are loving it.

Orange City’s young paceman Jono Warren has cleaned up, leading the way in first grade with 14 scalps in four matches while CYMS new quick Chris Novak has netted 13 wickets before the break, including best figures of 5-30.

Middleton has been at his miserly best with the ball too, taking 10 wickets, best figures of 4-7 and conceding just 1.6 runs an over.

But even Middleton, a man many regard as the best cricketer in Orange, can’t quite put his finger on why the runs have dried up in the ODCA top grade.

“That’s a tough one. I can’t really answer it for others but, for me, I just try and apply myself,” Middleton said, with scores of 71 and 59 his peaks so far.

“I’ve been a bit of a dasher in the past, I like to go for quick runs but because I’m opening the batting this season I’m trying to settle down a bit and apply myself more.

“For other guys, I don’t know whether it’s the pitches, attitude... I can’t really answer that for them.”

A quick look around Western Zone tells a different story.

There’s been 14 hundreds scored in Dubbo’s Whitney Cup alone and while Bathurst’s first grade competition hasn’t been a run-a-thon, of the four ton’s in the BDCA this season one of them was a massive 265 from Rugby Union’s Max Hope.

On the flip side, the Riverina stronghold of Wagga has just one member in its 100-club in 2012-13 too.

Middleton wasn’t really surprised to hear of Dubbo’s run scoring blitz, with the flatter, more bouncier pitches further west favourable to batting.

He said in Orange, for the bowlers anyway, the game was simple.

“I’m obviously getting on in age a little bit, but I just try and put the ball in the right spot,” he said. “With guys moving clubs a little bit, you tend to know where their favourite shot is and we put fielders there and wait for a mistake.”

The ODCA first grade season kicks back into gear on Saturday from 1pm.

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