Dorothy Mackellar would have approved, she loved a sunburnt country, a land of droughts and flooding rains. And thats just how Australian Souths are at the moment.
Last game they put on 206 without loss at Nesbitt Park, but on Saturday on the same ground, the competition leaders were routed for 55 by The `Bar. The sudden feast to famine transformation opened the way for Easts to ascend to the competition lead, and for The `Bar to shore up their finals finish.
To be fair to Souths the pitch did cut about prodigiously as it was soft underneath. (As it hadnt rained for days it must have been over watered.) Souths mustnt have noticed the softness of the pitch because they won the toss and batted, collapsing to 7 for 19, before Lenny Blok restored some pride with a well made 30.
Bustling medium pacers Mark Newstead (5 for 18) and Brett Crawford (5 for 24) made the most of the conditions. Newstead then capped off his day with a blazing 45 to take The `Bar within two runs of first-innings points. Souths came back hard after tea, capturing 8 for 60 but by then the damage had already been done. If the pitch is the same next week this game will end in an outright, one way or the other.
Meanwhile, Eastern Districts Ian Gregory ripped through Marist Brothers top end to leave the Brethren floundering at 4 for 19. Skipper Craig Hamshaw (21) tried to steady the ship but to little avail as Brothers watched their season ebb away. Set the modest total of 88, Easts captain, Bruce Jobson (49) went after the bowling and past the total with only the loss of one wicket. Brothers fought back late, with medium pacer Craig Ferguson combining with Luke Collings for a couple of snazzy stumpings.
Brothers might be adrift but Casino are surging home. The Cavaliers tore through Ballinas tail to remove the Seasiders for a very modest 102 at Fripp Oval on Saturday.
Wade Sweeney and Al Nowlan were the destroyers taking four wickets apiece. However, the Bears mustachioed opening bowler, Damien Knights, wasnt just going to bow out gracefully. His charged-up 10 overs produced figures of 5 for 18 to give the Bears a chance of taking first-innings points next week. At stumps the Cavaliers were 7 for 89 in a match which could well determine who makes the finals and who doesnt.
The two other games are important as they will determine who gets the wooden spoon and to test the mettle of future champions.
The battle for last spot is between Workers Club and Alstonville. Workers are struggling against the Hawks who put on 233 thanks to a classy 93 from veteran Nathan Bonamy. Although the Hawks look set to keep Workers on the bottom of the comp, the emergence of the giant young off-spinner Ben Cooper (brother of NSW contract player Tom) is noteworthy. Cooper, a very promising batsman, took 3 for 44.
Meanwhile, Alsonville put up a half-decent show against the Pirates, cobbling together 148 with Jamie Redmayne top scoring with 32. Lennox Head were 0 for 20 in reply at stumps in a game which could go either way.
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