NOW that our appetites have been whetted by an Ashes 5-0 result, it is time for the main event as the Bendigo Bank HDCA A grade season resumes after a substantial break as Round Nine of the competition begins today.
It has been 28 days since the players were able to showcase their skills after Round Eight was washed out in the last week before Christmas and with the traditional Christmas break also being added, the teams must be champing at the bit to get back into the middle.
We are at the “pointy end” of the One-Day Shield competition as six teams vie for a place in the final.
Macarthur appears to have wrapped up a place in the February 2 final, but that leaves another five teams looking to claim that second place as only 9.68 points stand between second placed College and sixth placed St Andrew’s.
There are two matches remaining in the preliminary rounds, so a loss at this stage will spell death for any of these six teams and their hopes of a grand final spot.
Match of the round status goes to the College v Hamilton match at Dahl Turf as the second placed College play fourth placed Hamilton in a match that only six weeks ago would have been just another game.
But Hamilton has had a form reversal as it has won its last two games to drag it into a situation where it can reach the final if other results go its way.
The young Hamilton team is full of players who have had a very big week of cricket this week as many have been playing in the two Junior Country Weeks in the U/17 and U/15 age groups.
These players will be very tired as they have played every day of this week and although they are young, it stills takes a heavy toll on a player’s fitness.
Not even our Ashes heroes play six days straight!
Of course, both teams have players who are backing up from these carnivals, but it is Hamilton who will be most affected as many of its team are expected to play vital roles within the team, whereas College will be able to “rest” players such as Angus Boyd.
Dahl Turf is finally back in the rotation of venues after being out for the first half of the summer as the wicket block was rejuvenated and Hamilton will be happy to be back at home.
The match was due to be played at College, but the newly laid wicket block did not generate as expected and it will be out of action for the rest of the season.
It will be two years since the ground has been used and it is hoped that the club can get the block up to playing standard by the start of next summer, as it is one of the best wickets in the competition and the association needs every turf wicket in the district.
Full story in the Spectator on Saturday, January 11, 2014