Developing Redbacks starting do-or-die Royal Hotel Cup run against powerhouse Cavaliers

NOW OR NEVER: Redbacks gun Ben Orme pushes forward against Orange City last month, his showing will be crucial against Cavaliers on Friday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
NOW OR NEVER: Redbacks gun Ben Orme pushes forward against Orange City last month, his showing will be crucial against Cavaliers on Friday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

While he admitted his side is still finding its feet in Twenty20 cricket, Bathurst City skipper Matt Willis said his Redbacks are also fully aware they have no more room for if error if they want to feature in this summer’s Royal Hotel Cup finals.

Redbacks suffered a first-up loss to Orange City last month and with no pool structure this summer, they face three more all but do-or-die preliminary fixtures, kicking off with Friday’s clash with competition powerhouse Cavaliers.

“It’s a bit of a learning curve for us still, playing Twenty20, and we’re still getting used to the style of play. In the first round Orange City beat us comfortably,” Willis said.

“If we lose this match then our competition is basically done. That puts a bit of pressure on us.”

The maroons – the only side to have won multiple titles since the competition changed to T20 in 2012-13 – will be somewhat of an unknown too, they’ve had significant player turnover and Friday’s clash is their first of this summer’s tournament.

“We know a little bit about their rep players but with the combined Bathurst and Orange competition no longer existing it means we know a bit less about the teams than we used to,” Willis said.

One of those representative players is Josh Doherty, who is in red-hot form this summer.

In club and district cricket he’s pumped out 230 runs in four digs at 57.5, and even without form behind him he’s regarded as one of Orange District Cricket Association’s most devastating bats.

Stu Middleton, of course, is another danger man with both bat and ball.

Simply, on history, if Middleton gets going Redbacks will be all but resigned to a loss.

Middleton sat out last summer’s Twenty20 tournament, but in the four seasons prior to that he smashed out a ridiculous 636 runs at a stunning average of 45.57, including a highest score of 127.

That knock came from 74 balls, he reached triple figures in just 50.

There is a bigger picture for Redbacks though, Willis said his side is using the Royal Hotel Cup to develop in the shortest form of the game before Bathurst’s upcoming T20 tournament – which is new this summer.

DANGER MAN: Stu Middleton poses a massive threat to any side. Photo: STEVE GOSCH

DANGER MAN: Stu Middleton poses a massive threat to any side. Photo: STEVE GOSCH

Friday’s clash kicks off at 6.30pm at Wade Park on Friday night.