Cavaliers the hot favourites
CASINO has its own wireless (COW-FM), its own festival (Beef Week), its own footy clubs (the Cougars and the Bulls) and, in summer, its own top-grade cricket team – the Cavaliers.
Now the Cavaliers have their own Far North Coast LJ Hooker League final.
For 13 of the 16 seasons since the regional competition was established in 1994-94, the Cavaliers have played semi-finals in March.
It’s a remarkable record but in between their three premierships in 1998-99, 1999-2000 and 2007-08, there have been plenty of disappointments.
It took five attempts at semi-finals before they reached their first final.
Eight times they have failed to make it past the semis and twice – in 2006-07 and 2008-09 – they have made the decider without success.
That will only add to the incentive when the Cavaliers – in their fourth consecutive final – play Marist Brothers at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, this weekend.
It will be the first time the final has been played at Queen Elizabeth Park. Before the Tweed teams came into the competition three seasons ago, the final was always played at Oakes Oval, Lismore.
There’s plenty pointing to a fourth premiership for Casino.
They are unexpectedly playing at home after defending premiers Ballina Bears were denied in their semi-final last weekend.
The Cavaliers have plenty of finals experience, a powerful batting line-up led by Sam Irvine and Adam Shields, who have both rep-resented NSW Country, and a fast bowling attack the equal of any in the competition.
They have lost only once all season and when they played Brothers at Queen Elizabeth Park in December they racked up a big total in a one-dayer and won as they liked.
And if that’s not enough, they can draw inspiration from Irvine’s epic innings of 215 not out in the 2007-08 final against Tintenbar-East Ballina at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.
Marist Brothers’ Hooker League pedigree is not nearly as imposing, but with a young team high on confidence led by respected junior coach Craig Ferguson, they go into the final with nothing to lose.
The club’s only premiership came in 1996-97, although they were desperately unlucky in the inaugural season of 1994-95 when minor premiers Norths held on for a draw in a final dominated by Brothers.
This season the Brethren have shown that in cricket you don’tnecessarily need a team of starsto get the job done.
A 16-year-old all-rounder, Dain Moreton, has been their standout.
But they clawed and fought all season to finish in the top four, then clawed and fought like never before to deny Bears an outright win in their semi-final after claiming the first innings advantage.
On paper, it really does look cut and dried – the Cavaliers should win in a canter.
But sport’s not always like that.
It’s about performing when it counts, performing under pressure, holding your catches and holding your nerve.
Brothers will know they’re a chance if they play well, get thebig wickets early and the breaksgo their way.
Hours of play: 11am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday.
Umpires: David Went, Kevin Fraser.