Easts skipper Cavalier about history?s role
By ADRIAN MILLER
EASTERN Districts captain Bruce Jobson and his team don't just have to overcome Casino Cavaliers in their Far North Coast LJ Hooker (Ballina) League cricket semi-final at Oakes Oval, Lismore, this weekend ? history is also against them.
Easts have been a powerhouse of the Hooker League since its inception 1994-95, playing in eight finals series, but they have won through to the final only once ? in the 1996-97 season ? and have never won the premiership.
Like last year, Easts topped the competition ladder, well in front of the pack, but they will be aiming for a better semi-final performance against the fourth-placed Cavs than 12 months ago when they were bundled out by eventual premiers Tintenbar-East Ballina.
"Nope, we're not worried about that record at all," Jobson said.
"We've won all our one-day semis and finals this year and there aren't many players who play now that played in any of those years, so no one is worried about it."
Indeed Casino could be worried, given the strength of the Easts line-up today.
Jobson and Paul Simes have been almost impenetrable at the top of the batting order, while young guns Simon Milenko and Jake McKinnon, together with wicketkeeper Daniel Rowlands, comprise a solid middle-order.
Throw in the fearsome bowling of McKinnon, Ian Gregory and young left-arm spinner Wes Koskela, and Easts look strong throughout their entire side.
The Cavaliers will head into the match looking to make their first final since they won the title in 1999-2000 and, given the strength of their young line-up, they have every reason to be confident.
Sam Irvine, Scott Shepherd and Wade Sweeney are among the next crop of young stars to emerge from the Hooker League, but they are tempered nicely by established players such as captain Mal Hancock and Al Nowlan.
"We haven't been playing that well and Easts have been on a roll, but I'm reasonably confident if we lift our form we are more than capable of doing it," Hancock said.
"Al Nowlan and Wade Sweeney have been doing the job all year for us so hopefully they'll have big games, and I'd like to see Sam Dietrich and Todd Summers step up".
WHILE Easts will be trying to overturn a sordid past, Southern Districts will be hoping to exact revenge on Tintenbar-East Ballina, which beat them in the final last season.
Souths were aiming for three premierships in a row before the upstarts from the coast swamped their parade like an angry beach-break wave.
Given they also lost the final of the Byron Private Life one-day competition last weekend, they have extra incentive.
Souths had a setback during the week with fast bowler Paul Fredericks out with a groin injury.
He has been replaced by Jerry Deal.
Captain Richard Nind said his side wouldn't lose much potency with the change.
"It's disappointing for Fredo because he has bowled really well for us this year," he said.
"But every time Jerry has played for us he's stood up and played well so there are no concerns about the way he's been going."
With Nind, his brothers Anthony and Michael, Paul McLean and Rex Parrish, Souths have arguably the strongest batting line-up in the competition, but add bowlers Len Blok and Craig Bateman into the mix and the team has the complete package.
Tintenbar has been quietly going about its business this season.
Captain Brett Crawford and experienced opening bat Phil Dalli are the rocks the team is built on, while Lucas Wagland, Jordan Waugh and Luke Shay will provide ample support with bat and ball at Nielson Park, East Lismore.
Crawford said his team's performance was all down to its attitude.
"If we play it the same way we did last year, by just going out and enjoying ourselves, hopefully the result will be the same," he said.
"If we play well the outcome will take care of itself."