Lower grades to enjoy a short game bonanza

JACK Brabham will today be turned into Twenty20 central with the Orange District Cricket Association’s lower grade Twenty20 competition set to light up the ground.

All three turf wickets will be in use from 12.30pm, with CYMS taking on Waratahs (Jack Brabham 1), Wanderers Force playing Orange City (Jack Brabham 2) and Cavaliers taking on defending champions Gladstone (Jack Brabham 3).

In the 4pm time slot, City Warriors face Cavaliers (Jack Brabham 1), Wanderers open their account against CYMS (Jack Brabham 2) and Centrals do the same against Wanderers Force (Jack Brabham 3).

Easily the best side in the shortest form of cricket last summer, Gladstone skipper Mark Merchant said the key to winning another lower grade Twenty20 title would be remaining patient.

“Not losing your head,” Merchant replied when asked what would get his side over the line.

“You’ve got to bat the 20 overs and hope there’s a couple of big hitters coming in late in the innings, but generally, and a few teams are probably pretty inexperienced in Twenty20, it comes down to not losing your head. 

“Fielding is pretty important as well.”

Already one of the form sides of the summer, Gladstone has lost just the one game of regular Saturday cricket this season.

Merchant said the key to that success had been a few new additions, namely Sam Reichstein and Dick Manning.

“We’ve picked up Tim Lowe as well who has averaged 60 in normal cricket and Kyran Bubb is a handy keeper,” Merchant said. “We’ll go well again I think.”

Gladstone will, however, be missing Mick Sullivan.

The devastating batsman - Sullivan has hit 356 runs including two hundreds in the format over two seasons - will be absent after having knee surgery.

Other than that, though, expect to see a relatively full-strength Gladstone.

“Normally timing is a bit of an issue for us with this competition, we normally scrape a team together, but this year we’ve got most of our players available. Macca (Ben McAlpine) will play Sunday, he’s pretty handy as well,” Merchant laughed.

“Mick’s a loss. He probably held the team together last year, but in general we’re probably stronger.”

Tomorrow’s games will see Gladstone play City Warriors from 3.30pm at Riawena Oval.

The earlier Riawena Oval game will see Centrals face Orange City while Glenroi Oval will play host to the Wanderers and Waratahs clash, both starting at 1pm. 

The finals will be played next weekend.

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