Souths draw on will to win
By ADRIAN MILLER email@example.com
WITH plenty of youthful exuberance in his team Casino Cavaliers captain Mal Hancock could have been expected to spend all week calming down his players, but it appears Souths captain Richard Nind has had to take away the red cordial after his side couldn't wait to begin the Far North Coast L J Hooker (Ballina) League cricket final at Oakes Oval, Lismore, today. Souths are vying for three titles in four years and are eager to get at a Casino team that hasn't tasted Hooker League success since winning back-to-back titles in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. "Yeah, the boys can't wait, they're really excited," Nind said. Nind has made one change, with veteran Paul Fredericks overcoming a hamstring injury to replace Chris Jones, and the captain is hoping the fast bowler's experience will add to an intimidating bowling attack. "Our boys have been there and done that so they have the experience, but on the other hand they (Casino) have a lot of young blokes with the attitude that there's not much to lose," he said. "They have plenty more years left so it might advantage them a little to go in with a gung-ho attitude." After finishing above Casino on the table, Souths need only a draw to take the title and with a flat wicket and fast outfield prepared, Nind believes his for midable batting line-up ? which on a good day bats down to No 11 ? can overpower a relatively young attack. "It looks really flat at the moment and after the Under-16 final there tonight (Friday) there should be plenty of runs," he said. "It will be hard to bowl us out, especially if we get off to a good start. "If we do bat first we'll be looking to get a minimum of 250. Anything over 250 is going to be hard to chase down." That is usually the case, but when a team boasts the likes of Sam Irvine, Scott Shepherd and Hancock, no total is safe ? and their battle with the likes of fast bowlers Fredericks, Craig Bateman and Len Blok will go a long way to deciding the outcome. Souths' bowlers, as well as their Casino counterparts Al Nowlan, Wade Sweeney and Josh Innes, will be hoping the forecasted weekend rain arrives because that could be the only help the bowlers find on the flat Oakes Oval wicket. But even without rain, Hancock knows his side has the talent to produce the goods ? they just can't be overawed. "We just have to make sure we don't get too carried away with the situation and do the basic things right," he said. "A final is a bit more intense than normal, so if we do the simple things right the rest will take care of itself." After an 11th hour eye injury forced him to miss the semi-final, Matt Jones will take his place at the top of the order at the expense of Under-16 all-rounder Trent Bennett, but that is the only injury concern for the Cavaliers. And Hancock knows there'll be no excuses come Sunday. "It's been a long time between drinks for us," he said. "It's certainly a good effort just to get here but it won't make a difference come Sunday if we're in the losing team." Teams: SOUTHERN DISTRICTS: Richard Nind (c), Anthony Nind, Paul McLean, Michael Nind, Rex Parrish, Steve Fredericks, Len Blok, Mitchell Pickford, Matt Parrish, Craig Bateman, Paul Fredericks. CASINO CAVALIERS: Scott Shepherd, Matt Jones, Myles McDowell, Sam Irvine, Sam Dietrich, Todd Summers, Mal Hancock (c), Josh Innes, Wade Sweeney, Al Nowlan, Mark Mison. Umpires: Kevin Fraser, Neville Haywood. Hours of play: Saturday and Sunday 11am to 1pm, 1.40pm to 3.40pm, 4pm to 6pm.