Blue skies ahead af­ter fi­nals drought

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - SPORT - El­liot Raiter

AF­TER six sea­sons in the fi­nals wilder­ness, South Perth has fi­nally reached WA’s Premier Cricket top six.

Only time will tell what sort of im­pact the Sky Blues can have on the re­main­der of the cam­paign, but that winning feel­ing has re­turned to Richard­son Park.

The last time seven-time pre­miers South Perth made the semi-fi­nals was back in 2011, and only Hugh Brown re­mains from that side, with fresh faces – many from the ti­tle-winning 2012-13 Colts side – and a new coach rein­vig­o­rat­ing the strug­gling club.

Trent Ovens is an­other Sky Blues veteran and the top-or­der bats­man be­lieves more ex­pe­ri­ence and some key in­clu­sions have been the cat­a­lyst be­hind the rise.

“I think we have just had some growth from our younger play­ers,” he said.

“Dar­ius D’Silva, Sam Bir­chall and Si­mon Rin­grose have just got a year older and a year bet­ter.

“We have man­aged to add a cou­ple of play­ers in the off sea­son, like Rob Jones from Eng­land, who has been fan­tas­tic, along with Michael Bai­ley from Gos­nells.

“Prob­a­bly a real cul­mi­na­tion of growth and per­son­nel.”

Brett Mul­der as coach is the other ma­jor change to the set-up, with the for­mer State crick­eter tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to pre­vi­ous men­tors at South Perth.

“He (Mul­der) brings a level of in­ten­sity to train­ing and re­ally makes us fo­cus on field­ing,” Ovens said.

“Come game day though, he just lets us get on with play­ing. His ex­pe­ri­ence in the game is in­valu­able.”

With a lack of fi­nals ex­pe­ri­ence, South Perth will have their backs against the wall against qual­ity op­po­si­tion, with Ovens be­liev­ing there is plenty to gain for ev­ery­one in­volved.

“The best thing for the young guys, if we play the likes of Clare­mont, Freo or Joon­dalup, is to just watch their class play­ers down the lists,” Ovens says.

“Just to watch them play and ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing in those games against those play­ers, you can only learn from that.”

De­spite the ob­vi­ous dif­fi­culty that comes with fin­ish­ing in the lower half of the top six, the Sky Blues be­lieve they can have an im­pact, much like Fre­man­tle, who made the grand fi­nal from sixth last sea­son.

“We wouldn’t rock up if we didn’t think we could win,” Ovens said.

“It’s 11 against 11 and any­thing can hap­pen. We will give it our best.”

South Perth will play its semi-fi­nal match on March 11 and 12.

South Perth bats­man Trent Ovens faces up to Univer­sity bowler David Moody.

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