The 2006-07 Hooker League season comes to its crescendo this Saturday and Sunday on Oakes Oval, with the perennial champions, Souths, taking on the young guns from Casino.
Its been a year which showcased emerging stars, like Scott Sheppard and Matt Parrish. In many ways its been an unusual year with the controversial kicking-the-ball-over-the-boundary incident and some mid-season club schisms, but one thing hasnt changed Easts getting knocked out in the semi finals.
Yes, the Hoodoo Gurus, after a sensational year where they easily captured the minor premiership and won the one-day title, have managed, once again, to fall at the second last hurdle going down to Casino on Oakes Oval over the weekend. Unbelievably, their eighth straight semi-final loss. If we lived in a more ancient civilisation surely they would overdose their leader on psychotropic drugs and send him on a shamanic warrior quest into the other world so he would have visions and return with the answer. But we dont so theyll just have to live with a nasty big choking gorilla on their back for another year.
The final itself promises to be a cracker. The teams are well matched across the park. Each side has an excellent pair of opening bowlers. Souths Len Blok and Craig Bateman are seasoned performers and both can be completely unplayable. And the same can be said for Al Nowland and Wade Sweeney for the Cavaliers. Backing this fire power, both sides have a battery of accurate medium pacers for Souths, Matt Parrish, Chris Jones and Steve Fredricks and for the Cavaliers Mark Mison, Josh Innes and Mal Hancock. In the spin department Souths have a slight advantage with Paul McLeans off-spin a little more reliable than Scott Sheppards leg spin. Sheppard makes up for this by being the best performed opening batsman in the league.
In the batting stakes both teams bat all the way to number 11, and both teams are by nature aggressive which could be their undoing remember both attacks bowl a good line and length and rely on frustration to get their wickets. Each side has its batting rock for Casino it is Sheppard and for Souths it is Rex Parrish. Each team has its batting ace for Souths, Paul McLean and for Casino, Sam Irvine.
Souths are more experienced but the Cavaliers have more youthful exuberance on their side. Its a very difficult game to pick. Souths have been regularly saved by their lower-order batsmen in recent times, so if Casino can be unrelenting in their pressure they should win. However, if they let Souths batsmen get away at any stage, they wont be able to haul in their total. Its sure to be tight, I think just one brilliant catch separates them. Who will snag it? I dont know.
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