Preview of the Bendigo District Cricket Association semi-final between Bendigo United and Strathdale-Maristians this weekend.
BENDIGO UNITED v STRATHDALE-MARISTIANS at Harry Trott Oval
UMPIRES: Paul Abbott and Ken Reed.
LAST TIME: February 8, 2014: Bendigo United 4-203 (B. Gunn 57*, B. DeAraugo 2-38) d Strathdale-Maristians 5-199 (T. King 103*, M. Podosky 2-20).
SINCE 2000: Strathdale 13; Bendigo United 8.
BENDIGO UNITED (8-4-1):
Leigh McDermott (c) (143 runs, 24 wkts).
Heath Behrens (297 runs).
Nick Crawford (227 runs, 31 wkts).
Mark Di Fede (134 runs).
Harry Donegan (160 runs, 23 dismissals).
Ben Gunn (440 runs, 13 wkts).
Byron Perrin (6 runs, 11 wkts).
Matt Pinniger (646 runs).
Miggy Podosky (109 runs, 27 wkts).
Marcus Smalley (29 runs, 9 wkts).
Bryan Vance (163 runs, 1 wkt).
Linton Jacobs (c) (413 runs, 12 dismissals).
Nick Baker (139 runs).
Ben DeAraugo (494 runs, 20 wkts).
Jacob DeAraugo (92 runs, 20 wkts).
Travis King (613 runs, 1 wkt).
Ryan Haythorpe (92 runs, 11 wkts).
Jack Neylon (55 runs, 3 wkts).
Adrian Pappin (387 runs, 2 wkts).
Nick Roebuck (17 runs, 11 wkts).
Ben Smith (50 runs).
Cameron Taylor (419 runs, 28 wkts).
BENDIGO United and Strathdale-Maristians will renew their finals rivalry when they do battle at Harry Trott Oval.
The sides both won eight games during the home and away season and split their two meetings one apiece.
The Redbacks will hit the finals in their best form of the season and strengthened by the return of Heath Behrens from his knee concern.
Behrens walks back into a powerful Bendigo United batting line-up that has been led brilliantly by Matt Pinniger and Ben Gunn, who have combined for 1086 runs, while Nick Crawford, Miggy Podosky and captain Leigh McDermott all have 20-plus wickets with the ball.
The star-studded Strathdale, which has won the past three flags, has opening batsman Travis King - who is averaging 103 since Christmas - in outstanding form.
Ben DeAraugo, Cameron Taylor and captain Linton Jacobs have also been consistent with more than 400 runs each this season, with leg-spinner Taylor and quickie DeAraugo also doubling up with 48 wickets between them.
THE MEN IN CHARGE: Leigh McDermott (Bendigo United) – “We’ve played each other twice this season and we’re 1-1, but this is where it counts.
“We’re playing the best cricket we’ve played all season right now.
“Strathdale deserves to start favourites having won the past three flags, but if we can continue with the way we’ve played our past month of cricket, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Linton Jacobs (Strathdale-Maristians) – “We’ve played some good cricket in patches this season and had some hurdles to overcome with players missing and injuries.
“But we’ve started to hit some form and we’re confident going into this week.
“BUCCs are a classy outfit and we’ve had some very good tussles with them over the past few years. There’s a lot of mutual respect there and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them.”
LUKE WEST’S VERDICT: Bendigo United. Yet another finals meeting between two of the power clubs of the BDCA.
Tough to pick a winner, but Bendigo United looks to be getting better as the season wears on, and playing at home, I favour the Redbacks just in a thriller.