Wickets and sixes will be the name of the day this weekend, as the Illawarra Cricket Association’s grand finals begin.
Keira Cricket Club will hope to continue its resurrection from last season, where it finished bottom of the ladder. On its way to this year’s final, Keira claimed the club championship.
“It’s going to be an exciting weekend with the top three grades in the final,” Keira President Paul Theodossiadis said.
“No-one has really rated us, which has allowed us to do what we need to do and get on with winning games.”
Keira first grade captain Mark Johnston has had a long and distinguished career in local cricket, but the 40-year-old will face no greater challenge than the aggressive Balgownie XI.
“His [Johnston’s] experience is invaluable to us,” Theodossiadis said.
“He has been a tower of strength for us all season long, through his batting and also mentoring our younger boys along.”
Johnston is under no illusions of the challenge, identifying Balgownie’s impressive batting line-up as their greatest strength.
“They are a powerful line-up with lots of experienced players, with a lot of them having scored plenty of centuries over the years in this competition,” Johnston said.
“They play very aggressively, so if all works well they can score very quickly, which makes it hard as a captain to set a field, but they do play a lot of shots which gives the bowlers a chance. That is where we see our opportunities,” he said.
Balgownie’s captain Jamie Fleming said he is calm as his side prepares for the final.
“We are really confident coming into the game, we have a very experienced line up,” Fleming said.
“I have been captain of six finals teams, winning on three occasions. Myself and the team are well aware of what to expect out on the field this weekend.”
Johnston, who is also President of the Illawarra Cricket Association, said there are plenty of positive signs.
“The Big Bash and the prominence that it has given cricket in the region, plus its attraction for young boys and girls is starting to steadily boost the numbers,” he said.
Early weather forecasts indicate rain, but both sides are hoping for clear skies and competitive cricket at Thomas Dalton Park this weekend.