Brothers bound for the semis
MARIST Brothers had a job to do in Far North Coast LJ Hooker League cricket at the weekend, needing seven points to all but guarantee a place in the semi-finals for the first time since winning the competition 13 years ago.
And when captain Craig Ferguson won the toss and sent Murwillumbah in to bat at Nesbitt Park, South Lismore, it was up to his bowling attack to get the ball rolling.
They did that – and much more.
Brothers had the ball swinging, bouncing, seaming and, most importantly, crashing into the stumps.
In 20 forgettable overs Murwillumbah had been rattled – all out for 53 with no batsman making double figures.
Change bowlers Adam Thompson (4-14) and Stuart Rose (4-22) produced their best spells of their season to ruin Murwillumbah’s batting line-up.
It was just what the doctor – or the captain – ordered.
“The deck was really slow, so batsmen and bowlers needed to apply certain techniques,” Ferguson said.
“Stuey and Adam found the right length, which is the key, and they were rewarded with the wickets.”
The home side came out swinging after the change of innings to reach the total in just 11.5 overs and keep their finals destiny firmly in their own hands.
Brothers are now seven points clear of Lismore rivals Southern Districts with just one round to play.
Only two massive final- round upsets could rob Brothers of a spot in the top four.
They would need to lose to Lismore Workers, who have won only twice all season, while Southern Districts would need the full 12 points for an outright victory from their match against second-placed Cudgen.
But Ferguson won’t entertain the thought of defeat; he has his eyes on an outright win and a possible home semi-final.
“We will come out all guns blazing looking for the full 12 points,” he said.
“Home ground advantage is vital in the finals, I know the other three teams would be much more comfortable playing us on their home wickets, but if we can have a big win we can play host.”
In the only other match to get on at the weekend, Casino fought off a valiant Tintenbar-East Ballina to book their spot in the semi-finals.
Reduced to a one-dayer, Phil Dalli won the toss and sent the Cavaliers in to bat.
An 80-run opening stand between Todd Summers (59) and Adam Shields (34) put the visitors in the box seat before Abe Crawford (3-22) removed them both to drag the pendulum back a fraction.
A late cameo from Wade Sweeney (21) took the score to 160 at the completion of 40 overs.
Opener Dalli (62) got the run chase under way by scoring his second half-century of the season, but the captain received support from only Kent Shay (31) and Mick Warburton (12) with the rest of the line-up stranded in single figures as Tintenbar-East Ballina were bowled out 22 runs short.
The result confirmed the Cavaliers’ spot in the top four and ended Tintenbar-East Ballina’s season.