Originally written by CODY WINNELL
HAMILTON all-rounder Anthony Read hopes to cap off a strong season with a premiership from the A grade grand final which starts today at Melville Oval.
To do so he has to get over a determined and experienced Grampians outfit and, despite talk around the traps about Read’s P.F. Christie chances, the grand final is the only thing on his mind.
“It’s too early to be worrying about who’s going to win the P.F. Christie, we’ve got to focus on the task at hand and that starts (today),” he said.
Read’s dominance with the ball this season has stood out, his leg-spinners constantly worrying opposition batsmen, which has netted him about 34 wickets.
“I’ve had a pretty good season I feel, I’ve taken plenty of wickets but I guess I would have liked to make more runs.”
However, Read’s performances with the bat are pretty hard to knock, especially since Country Week, which seemed to be a turning point in his season.
“I guess my batting has improved and that did start at Country Week. There were a couple of occasions where I had to make runs because the pressure was on.
“I had to use my brain a bit more instead of just going out there swinging and that has helped me out a fair bit.”
The improvement in his batting form has prompted Hamilton captain Greg Millard to promote Read up the order.
“I looked at him at the start of the season and thought he had a fantastic technique.
“As soon as a bowler strays one short he puts it away because he hits the ball so hard.
“I put him in at number three for the one-dayers and that worked well, he made regular 30s and some more. He’s very positive and aggressive.
“He bats the same attacking style whether he’s in at three or eight. I decided to promote him to number three for the two-dayers and that’s worked as well.
“He’s maturing and he’s not throwing away his wicket anymore.”
Just last week in the semi-final against Southern Grampians, Read’s brilliant form stood out again.
He took 4-19 with the ball and scored a game-high 36 with the bat. In fact it was the most runs scored by any A grade player in the semi-finals.
His name has constantly appeared in the Heroes and Zeros column and he’s won Cally Cricketer of the Week twice. It’s been an awesome year for him and it’s any wonder people are talking up his chances at winning the P.F. Christie, the association’s equivalent of the Brownlow Medal.
But Read believes, while he must be some chance, there are other players who have been playing some really top quality cricket.
“Robbie Phillips has been a standout for St Andrew’s, he’s made plenty of runs and taken wickets, he must be a chance.
“There’s a couple of Southern Grampians players who have had good seasons also, Walkenhorst and Morey.”
However, Millard’s tip for the Christie is simple.Ê.Ê.Read.
But there’s no point looking too far ahead, right now Read is working on reversing his finals misfortunes of the past, which has seen him play in six losing unsuccessful finals campaigns.
“It was about time I won one,” he said about last week.
“I’ve won a B grade flag with Hamilton and another B grade flag with St Andrew’s, but I’ve never won one in A grade, so it would be pretty special.
“Especially given how we went last year and the fact that I’ve played in so many losing semi-finals, it would mean a lot to me.”
While the build up to a grand final is normally an exciting and slightly nerve racking time for any sportsperson, Read says Hamilton is treating Saturday’s encounter like the first day of any other match.
“I think that’s the best way to look at it,” he said.
“Obviously we’re very keen to win and we’re very happy to have made the grand final, but it’s going to be just another game.”
If so, Hamilton must be rated a strong chance as the last time it clashed with Grampians in a two-day match it proved too strong.
“We beat them in the last extended type of match so I see no reason why we can’t do it again.”
Read believes Hamilton’s bowling attack could do some damage to Grampians’ batting line-up.
“We’ve got some really good bowlers on the side and I think that should work in our favour.
“We’ve got a strong side this year and this is definitely our chance.”
It’s a view echoed by Millard. “We’ve got every right to be confident, I think we’ve proven ourselves.
“It’s now a case of getting a few players to stand up and perform just one more time and we’ll win.”