8 March, 2024

Highly anticipated Grand Final

The two best teams in A Grade all season, Donald Jeffcott and BrimKSH face off at Birchip Recreation Reserve tomorrow in the Wimmera Mallee Cricket Association Grand Final.

By Chris Graetz

Matt Crisp has had a lean season but is showing signs of getting back to his best with a 17* last Saturday against Marnoo.
Matt Crisp has had a lean season but is showing signs of getting back to his best with a 17* last Saturday against Marnoo.

Donald and Jeffcott merged in the off-season and they have been the best team in the competition, going through the season undefeated.

Noah Berry has been the most prolific batsman in recent years scoring 794 runs with an average of 88.22. Daniel Atkins has scored 428 runs at an average of 61.14 and Lachlan Jones, 410 at 68.33.

If one falters, then the chances are one or two will go on for big scores.

There is not a weakness in this lineup as their bowling is equally as good. Eddie Landwehr leads the league in wickets with 23 at an average of 8.04 and when you have Cooper Anderson with 22 and 12.14, Daniel Atkins, 17 at 11.82 and Brady Griffiths, 16 at 10.75, you can see why they have been the benchmark all season.

As the saying goes, "Cricket is a funny game", and you have seen many times in high-pressure finals that a lot of underdogs come out on top.

BrimKSH's batting is their weakness. If they are to be in a winning position, against this quality lineup, 180 minimum needs to be the target.

Isaac McPherson has scored 420 runs at an average of 84, but after him there is a major gap to the next four.

Jeremy Preston, 178 at 59.33, Chris McPherson, 175 at 29.17, Leigh Dovaston, 171 at 19 and Tim Bell 113 at 28.25 are the only ones over double figures.

If BrimKSH is to win, one or two of these players need to score higher than their average. The flip side, however, is that BrimKSH has only batted first twice this year, so the stats don't tell the whole story.

Isaac McPherson has only won the toss three times this season and will be looking to win it a fourth time on Saturday.

With that said, the key for BrimKSH is tight bowling, like they achieved against Donald Jeffcott on February 17 when they restricted them to 8/143.

It's no secret that BrimKSH's bowling is their strength with three players averaging single figures.

Charlie Dean has taken 21 wickets at 9.81, Isaac McPherson, 15 at 8.27 and Jeremy Preston, 14 at 9.07. Lachlan McGinniss is equally as good as he bowls tight at the top of the order. He has taken 14 wickets at 18.21.

The weather will also play a factor with temperatures expected to soar above 40 degrees Celsius. Should the weather reach 42 degrees, the match will be stopped, so with Sunday being a reserve day and potentially Monday as well, the final could be a stop/start affair which brings an extra obstacle to the match.

BrimKSH captain Isaac McPherson said that having a full squad will be huge.

"The two times we played them this year we were missing key players. So having a full squad coming into the final should make a difference," he said.

"I don't think the weather will affect things and I don't think it will get over 42 degrees so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

"In any case, we have Connorr McGinniss who just missed out on selection and Harry Withers as 13th man and both are gun fielders so we can use them in the field if the heat affects us."

The last time they played, the bowlers contained Noah Berry well and McPherson said that will be important again.

"I think the key to Noah Berry is to contain him and slow him down and getting him frustrated and that's how we will go about it," he said.

McPherson does believe they had an edge with the bowling.

"We have seven bowlers that bowl very well and on top of that, I can bowl and Leigh can as well and we all have different varieties," he said.

"Everyone bowls differently. Some can skid it, we have a spinner that doesn't spin it but is effective and I can come on and spin it, we have another player that can bowl slow and Charlie Dean is a left-arm quick, so the variety is important and we can use the matchups accordingly.

"I don't believe Donald Jeffcott has that variety. They are all similar bowlers, so hopefully we can have some sort of edge there."

In B Grade, Charlton hosts Donald Jeffcott at King George's Park in St Arnaud. Both teams finished in the top two with Charlton finishing on top.

They have played each other twice this year and have a 1-1 record, with both teams victorious at home.

Charlton has the edge in the batting boasting the two leading scorers in Billy Sexton, 513 runs at 46.64 and Hugh Sait, 304 at 27.64. They also have Patrick Soulsby fifth on the list with 237 at 21.55.

Donald Jeffcott has Jack Tellefson third on 277 runs at 25.18. Will Noble, 225 at 32.14 and Kalon Green, 216 at 27 are the only other batsmen to score over 200 runs.

Donald Jeffcott has the edge in the bowling boasting Joseph Praveen, 20 wickets at 8.5 and Jacob Donnellon, 20 at 16.15. Both top the league equal with James Paley of Birchip with 20. Jake Needs is 7th with 16 wickets at 8.31.

Charlton only has two players in the top 10 with Patrick Soulsby, 19 wickets at 7 and Hugh Sait, 17 wickets at 11.76.

This game is set to be a nail-biter.


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