Horsham cricket crunch time
Either win or hope for the best! That’s the scenario facing Laharum as Horsham Cricket Association’s race for the finals enters the final straight.
The wash-up as teams enter the last home-and-away round of the season is that fourthplaced Laharum is only one point ahead of Jung Tigers.
It means Laharum, to play in the finals, must beat thirdplaced Horsham Saints to give itself every chance of holding its ground.
The problem for Laharum is that Jung Tigers, which beat the Mountain Men last game to tighten up the finals equation, are hot favourites to overcome winless Blackheath-dimboola.
Adding to the intrigue is that the Tigers know that a first-innings win over the Bulls might not be enough and would be plotting a second-innings result if possible. Of course standing in the way of the plans of both Laharum and Jung Tigers are their opponents.
Horsham Saints won’t be keen to enter the finals on the end of a loss and BlackheathDimboola is sure to be keen to finish a disappointing season with a rare win.
Laharum meets the Saints in the two-day round deep in enemy territory at Coughlin Park and will need to find a way of hitting a score beyond the milestone 200-run mark.
Laharum’s 167 at Horsham City Oval last game was never enough, especially after winning the toss. It needs the likes of Josh Mahoney, Todd Heynen, Daniel Griffiths and George Macduff to cement the foundations for Damien Bunworth and Ben Peucker in the middle order.
It also needs to strike early with the ball and Dan Mibus, Adams, Mahoney, Bunworth and John Doyle, who captured 4-23, must all bowl well.
The Saints lost to top team Homers last game, but the contest was a ripper, with first drop Matt Combe hitting 145 and guiding his team to within 18 runs of the Pigeons’ target.
Combe, who ironically lost his wicket last week to brother Jarred, will be cherry ripe to continue his form alongside Corey and Austin Smith and Stuart Mcguckin.
Justtin Combe would be an important inclusion to the team if available and fellow all-rounder Tony Caccaviello looms as a critical player in the middle order.
Matt Combe and Caccaviello are also the primary danger men with the ball.
At Horsham City Oval, meanwhile, Jung Tigers will be looking for more batsmen to have a greater influence on their contest against the Bulls.
It was veteran Marty Knight, 76, who steered the Tigers across the line last week, while Brett Jensz hit 34.
A few other players had starts but their contribution was relatively minor.
The Tigers will either try to hit the Bulls into submission or weave through their batting list with a combination of David Puls-led medium pace and spin twins Jake Mclean and Angus Adams.
Blackheath-dimboola has a chance to have a say on who plays in the finals and will not have enjoyed losing outright after following on to Rupanyupminyip last week. The Bulls’ list appears thin but the team is likely to have taken note of the approach of veteran Mick Mcgough last week.
A Grade cricket drama will also unfold at Horsham Sunnyside where arch rivals Rupanyup-minyip and Homers play in a significant finals preview. A collection of top-notch players will touch gloves in this encounter with psychology the biggest prize up for grabs.
It is no surprise that allrounder Jarred Combe, who captured 5-70 for Homers last week, has hit his straps with the approach of finals.
CAUGHT: Laharum fielder Jesse Brown throws himself backwards to catch a Marty Knight sky-ball at Horsham City Oval on Saturday. Knight top-scored for the Tigers. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER