Towns aim to defend Geraldton men’s cricket title against ascendant Wanderers

Victor TantiGeraldton Guardian
Clayton Bruce-Cherry
Camera IconClayton Bruce-Cherry Credit: Colin Sherman/Geraldton Guardian

Towns are aiming for back-to-back cricket titles, against a Wanderers outfit on the march, but there could be a third threat to the men’s cricket decider on Saturday — the rain.

While dominant during the season, Towns have been static lately while Wanderers are on the ascendancy.

When the sides play the Geraldton Bendigo Bank Cricket League final at Wonthella on Saturday, it promises to be a much closer affair than the regular season, which Towns swept by 18 points — although rain is forecast and too much of it would mean no result and give Towns, as minor premiers, the flag.

But with a 70 per cent chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday, organisers are keeping a watchful eye on the weather.

Geraldton Regional Cricket Board president Nic Rafanelli said at this stage the match was going ahead. “We’ve got covers that we’ll cover all the pitches with and generally so long as we can get it rolled, we can cover it and should be right to play,” he said.

However, Jay O’Brien, regional cricket manager for WA Cricket in the Mid West, was a little less positive.

“At the moment it’s not looking great. The board haven’t made a call on what’s going to happen ... the game may have to be moved to Sunday. After March, the ground goes to footy, so it could be potentially rained out,” he said.

If it all goes ahead, Towns will still have their problems.

Ringo McKenna played only twice so isn’t qualified, Jay Comben is likely unavailable, and Jai Russell has a knee injury.

They have won four of their past six games but in that time none of their batters have made a 50, though Russell’s match-winning 46 not out in the T20 final was gold.

They may look to bolster their batting and could bring all-rounder Austin Breen, veteran Bob Gibson, who loves to attack, or Brian Mpofu.

“The team are excited and trying to build momentum despite the limited cricket lately,” Towns captain Sam Crouch said.

“I think it will be a top contest between two strong sides and I can confirm Russell will play.

“It would take a lot to stop a man as invested in this club as he is.

“Comben is away with work and probably won’t be back, but with both our sides in a grand final selection is open and Breen is in the mix. Right now I could give you three different team lists.”

For Wanderers, the only unknown is whether Alex Solomon is picked and who would make room for him.

They’ve won six of their past seven games and the loss in the T20 final was no setback, as they did most things right.

That overlaps the period in which Clayton Bruce-Cherry has been with the club.

In seven innings he’s made 385 runs, including three tons at 77.00, taken 11 wickets at 10.45, and held four catches.

“We think we can give it a big shake and I think we’re now playing our best cricket, which is the right time,” Wanderers captain Kade Gillingham said.

“We’ll finalise the team after our last training session, but we’re close to having it named already.”

A key factor in Wanderers’ preliminary final win was Shayne Bidwell, who hadn’t bowled in his previous 10 games, but took 4-9.

“I wasn’t surprised by that at all, he does everything well,” Gillingham said.

it’s just great to have Biddy in our team.”

The B-grade grand final between Dongara and Towns at the Rec will start at noon, an hour earlier than usual.

Dongara are favourites with quality in captain Jamie Smith, who has 718 runs this season, Darcy Stephens, Chris Bowran, Troy Bedford, Matt Mallard, and Matt Greenlees.

Towns’ key may be captain and veteran paceman Brad Mailer, who took 5-5 in the semi, Mitch Marsh, Jack Collins, Dan Brimson, Dan Guppy, Breen and Gibson.

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