THIS weekend’s Bendigo District Cricket Association semi-finals.
EAGLEHAWK v STRATHDALE
at Canterbury Park
EAGLEHAWK will have to shrug a significant monkey off its back if it’s to win its way through to a second BDCA grand final in a row.
The Hawks host Strathdale-Maristians in a semi-final at Canterbury Park in a game in which the rival captains are brothers – Cory Jacobs (Eaglehawk) and Linton Jacobs (Strathdale).
The Suns have proven a major March stumbling block for the Hawks in recent years.
The Suns have won their past four finals meetings against the Hawks over the previous seven years – beating them twice in grand finals (2016 and 2013) and twice in semi-finals (2015 and 2010).
But this time the Hawks get a crack at the Suns on their home deck courtesy of finishing on top.
The Hawks hit the finals having been unbeaten in their past nine games, with that stretch of matches including their tie against Huntly-North Epsom.
While the bowling has taken care of itself in recent years, the Hawks’ batting has shown more resolve this season led by Andrew Smith (438) at the top of the order.
Shane Murdoch (280) has been a valuable acquisition and Matt Fitt (223) has held the innings together well post-Christmas, averaging 172 in his past four knocks.
Paceman Richard Tibbett (29 wickets) hasn’t taken less than three wickets in his past four games, while Cory Jacobs (22), Smith (18), Aaron Monro (14) and Murdoch (9) can all build pressure with tight lines.
Strathdale-Maristians have made March their own in recent years, with the Suns having won five of of the past six premierships, during which they have a 10-1 record in finals.
It has been a tougher route for the Suns to get to the finals for the 12th-straight season after losing their first three games – one of which was to the Hawks – but since then have won eight of their past nine.
The Suns’ attack features the competition’s No.1 bowler in leg-spinner Cameron Taylor, who has 38 wickets for the season, including 26 in his past four games.
Taylor has taken 21 more wickets than the Suns’ next best, Sam Johnston (17), who has been a revelation at the top of the batting order post-Christmas, with three of his six knocks since being elevated to open scores of 73, 89 n.o. and 91.
Johnston has 331 runs, while the Suns also have Taylor (326), Jack Neylon (271), Ben DeAraugo (253) and Linton Jacobs (253) with more than 250 in a line-up that is stacked with the trademark Strathdale depth.
Last time: Eaglehawk 7-168 (Z. East 71*, D. Bailie 2-22) d Strathdale 136 (J. Hicks 48, R. Tibbett 3-15).
Eaglehawk – Cory Jacobs (c), Andrew Smith, Matt Ford, Shane Murdoch, Anthony West, Aaron Monro, Cameron McGlashan, Richard Tibbett, Josh Collinson, Zac East, Matt Fitt.
Strathdale – Linton Jacobs (c), Sam Johnston, Andrew Hosking, Jack Neylon, James Vlaeminck, Ben DeAraugo, Cameron Taylor, Adrian Pappin, Jacob DeAraugo, Dylan Bailie, Ryan Haythorpe.
Luke West – Strathdale.
Adam Bourke – Strathdale.
KANGAROO FLAT v BENDIGO UNITED
at Champions IGA Oval
KANGAROO Flat will make its return to the finals for the first time in nine years against an opponent playing in its 15th-consecutive semi-final, Bendigo United.
The big question surrounding the Roos is how will they handle the step-up in pressure given they have only star all-rounder Adam Burns who has previously played in a BDCA final?
There’s also the question mark of what will last week’s dismal batting effort against Bendigo United when they were bowled out for 87 do to the Roos’ psyche having to front straight back up to the Redbacks again.
According to the Addy’s rankings, the clash pits the No.1 bowling team (Kangaroo Flat) against the No.1 batting team (Bendigo United).
The Roos – who have lost Dylan Klemm to injury – have a dangerous opening bowling combination in Hamblin (24 wickets) and Burns (22), as well as leg-spinner Chris Barber (22), coming off a five-wicket haul against the Redbacks.
But they are going to have their work cut out for them in trying to curtail the Redbacks’ top-order quartet of Ben Gunn (557 runs), Heath Behrens (496), Mark Di Fede (333) and Clayton Holmes (316), who all have 300-plus runs.
Dylan Gibson (467), who has shouldered a heavy load with the bat, is the only Kangaroo Flat player to have made more than 300 runs for the season, while Burns (258) and Jake Klemm (250) are the only other two to surpass 200.
But what the Roos have is plenty of fighting spirit, and while it may have eluded them in the first innings last week, their memorable win over Bendigo when they had been 9-99 chasing 140 in round seven showed their determination.
And they are going to need to call on all their doggedness this weekend on their home ground if they are to overcome the likes of Behrens, Gunn, Holmes, Leigh McDermott, Nick Crawford, Miggy Podosky and co in the cauldron of semi-final pressure to get through to their first grand final since 2005.
Last time: Bendigo United 9-221 (M. Di Fede 46, C. Barber 5-67) d Kangaroo Flat 87 (D. Gibson 23, L. McDermott 5-5) & 4-75.
Kangaroo Flat – Brent Hamblin (c), Adam Burns, Dylan Gibson, Nathan Stubbings, Jake Klemm, Daniel Barber, Chris Barber, Liam Jones, Mitchell Collins, Tyler Hinds, Ryan O'Keefe.
Bendigo United – Leigh McDermott (c), Jake Thrum, Nick Crawford, Miggy Podosky, Harry Donegan, Ben Gunn, Clayton Holmes, Heath Behrens, Marcus Smalley, Mark Di Fede, Chris Howgate.
Luke West – Bendigo United.
Adam Bourke – Bendigo United.