Memo to Cavaliers, send ‘em in.
Cavaliers have never met Lithgow in a Royal Hotel Cup Twenty20 fixture, with that in mind one would think all the maroons can go off in preparation for Friday’s semi-final is what the Lightning have produced this summer.
Based on that, the maroons should be desperate to chase.
Or, more to the point, desperate to force the Lightning to bat first and set a total – something they’ve never done in the two seasons they’ve played in the T20 competition.
In the 2016-17 and 2014-15 summers combined Lithgow has produced some of the largest successful chases in the T20 competition’s short history, most recently when the side – outrageously, and reasonably comfortably – ran down more than 170 to eliminate Bathurst City three weeks ago.
But Cavaliers skipper Matt Corben says for his side it’s just about backing themselves and their ability, no matter the situation they find themselves in.
“We won the competition last year, so there’s no reason we can’t win this game and make it into another grand final. We just need to back ourselves,” Corben said.
“We don’t know much about Lithgow, (Lightning opening bat Ryan) Gurney has scored quite a lot of runs this summer though, so he will be a key wicket.”
Key wicket is right.
After smashing 80 not out against Bathurst City Gurney is second only to Blayney’s Mick Curtale on the run-scoring list, with 129. He’s only been dismissed once.
But Corben said he’ll be backing his bowlers to get rid of the hard-hitter early as his side looks to continue its marked improvement through the 2016-17 tournament.
Cavaliers lost emphatically to Orange City in their first game before improving dramatically to beat Blayney and then again to down Centrals in a rematch of last year’s final.
One massive positive for the maroons is the nature of their performances, in that they haven’t relied on one player to inspire victory.
Although they lost to Orange City, Greg Martin shone, taking 2-6 from three overs before Richie Venner smashed 82 not out to lead Cavaliers to victory over Blayney. Josh Doherty (4-9) also starred in that game.
In their second win, it was Corben (66 not out), Scott Kennedy (2-16) and Brad Wright (2-5) who did the damage.
Corben says there’s no reason the side can’t continue that, peaking at the perfect moment in the process.
“I think we’ve improved throughout the competition by just playing more T20 cricket,” he said.
“In our first game, you could tell by the way we played in that, we were rusty in this format so thankfully the more we’ve played the better we’ve become.”
Lightning spearhead Chris Redding remained coy about his side’s chances to progress to the decider.
Redding, who has played his role in restricting batsmen in the first six overs beautifully this summer, was diplomatic when asked about Cavaliers, praising the reigning champions.
"We're looking good, everyone is confident and looking forward to a good game between two good sides,” Redding said.
Friday night’s semi-final kicks off at 6.30pm, the winner will face the victor of next week’s second final four clash between CYMS and Orange City.