EAGLEHAWK must do what has been impossible this season if it’s to capture its first Bendigo District Cricket Association premiership since 2006.
The Hawks will this weekend take on the undefeated Strathdale-Maristians in the grand final.
The Hawks gave the Suns the biggest scare of any side during the home and away season and their best is good enough to cause the upset.
LUKE WEST analyses their chances.
EAGLEHAWK has an experienced batting line-up that has been consistent for most of the season, but like it has been in recent years, remains prone to frustrating batting collapses.
The Hawks won’t need any reminding of the 9-54 they lost against Strathdale-Maristians in round four when they somehow blew a winning position, or the fact that just over a month ago they were bowled out for 78 by Strathfieldsaye.
But they do have 10 scores of more than 200 in their 15 matches, including averaging 248 in their past three games since the Jets’ debacle.
Andrew Smith (527 runs), Ant-
hony West (481) – the only Eaglehawk player to make a century this season – and Matt White (436) have been the Hawks’ three leading run-scorers.
The hard-hitting Smith is coming off back-to-back half-centuries and will be a major key to the Hawks’ chances.
Captain Jason Abbott (207) and Luke Jones (86), who has done well the past two games in seeing off the new ball, will open the batting, with a good start against the Suns’ strong
bowling attack to be crucial.
West, who the Hawks will be hoping returns to his mid-season form, and White will bat at No.3 and No.4, while impressive teenager Cameron
McGlashan (246) – the youngest player in the grand final at age 18 – has done well in the second half of the season in the No.5 slot.
There is good depth in the batting, with middle to lower-order players Matt Fitt (264), Shane Taylor (246), who batted at No.10 last week, and Cory Jacobs (205) all having passed the 200-run mark, but they need to be the icing on the cake, not the main
THIS is where the Hawks have been very strong this season. Not since round two against Kangaroo Flat (211) have they conceded a score of more than 200.
The Hawks have the quickest bowler in the competition in speedster
Richard Tibbett (28 wickets), who destroyed the Suns in round three with a memorable 8-32 off 19 overs.
Tibbett has the pace to intimidate and he used it superbly in round three to shake up the Suns’ batsmen.
Tibbett’s sidekick has been Andrew Smith (38), who just keeps on keeping on and is capable of anything.
Smith was sensational last week in the semi-final win over Bendigo United when he shook off a calf injury to take 4-44 off 20 overs.
While Tibbett and Smith have combined for 66 wickets this season, the combination of Cory Jacobs (17), Cameron McGlashan (16) and veteran Shane Taylor (9) have been a solid support cast that must keep the pressure on the Suns.
ANDREW SMITH – can win a game with either bat or ball – as his past two matches against Bendigo United and Bendigo have shown.
Last week Smith turned the momentum back the Hawks’ way in their semi-final against Bendigo United when he came in at 4-68 and made 66 at better than a run-a-ball.
He then backed that up on the
Sunday with his four wickets to lead the Hawks to victory.
Has already had a big week by being crowned one of the three winners of the BDCA Cricketer of the Year, saluting for a second time, but premiership glory is what it’s all about now for one of the competition’s elite all-rounders.
WHY THEY CAN WIN
FORGET the fact that Strathdale-Maristians haven’t lost a game all
season – the Suns should hold no fears for the Hawks.
The Hawks proved in round three their best is good enough to take it up to the Suns, but they need to hold their nerve in the key moments, particularly with the bat, which they were unable to do in their earlier meeting.
The Hawks have the bowlers to trouble the Suns and if the batting can click as it has been late in the season, then Eaglehawk can cause the upset.
‘‘We’ll obviously be seen as the
underdogs, but the mindset of all the boys is completely different.
“Even though they beat us earlier in the year (by 14 runs) and it was a long time ago, we’re still taking a lot of positives out of the game.
“We know our best cricket is as good as theirs, so we’ll go in confident.”
– Jason Abbott.