With the Elders Cup cricket finals hitting off this weekend, Tumut Plains have snuck in under the radar, with all the hype surrounding minor premiers Coolac, reigning premiers Wyangle and the in-form Adelong Donkeys.
Plains, who have been out of sorts in recent weeks, scraped into fourth place by the skin of their teeth, and skipper Stephen Gill, said the underdog tag would suit their playing group, who are preparing for an elimination semi-final match against Adelong at The bull Paddock on Sunday.
“It is good to be the underdogs because no one expects us to win and there is no pressure,” Gill said.
“No one will be expecting us to get past the first round of finals.”
Gill believes an out of form Tumut Plains can now focus on each and every ball, instead of worrying about the results and finishing positions.
“We have been worried about results more than the ball-by- ball, and now we are in finals, we can worry about each ball and just play the game,” Gill said.
Gill said he wasn’t too worried about Adelong’s batting line-up, that included Tate O’Donovan, Luke Berkrey and Tyron Gorman, and instead shifted the focus onto his batsmen, that he believed needed to fire to beat the Donkeys.
“We have a good attack and I will back our attack against their batting order any day of the week,” Gill said.
“We have bowled them out twice for two low scores this season; our bowling isn’t the problem; we need to score runs with the bat.”
Plains opener, Luke Armstrong, said his side had the batting power to handle Adelong’s potent bowling attack and he called on his skipper to steady the ship.
“We definitely have the batting line-up to put a big score on them,” Armstrong said.
“You want your opener to definitely make a start, but with Gilly (Stephen Gill) coming at number three, who is really more the lynchpin in the team, we need him to score some runs.
“He has probably struggled with form this season and you would love to see him score a big one, and if from seven onwards can score some runs, we can put 160 or more on the board and be in a good position.”
Adelong pummelled Plains last time they played, bowling the Tumut side out for 36 on their home ground, and Armstrong said his side needed to be wary of Adelong’s attack.
“I just think we need to click,” Armstrong said.
“They bowled us out for 36 last time in what was a good spell of bowling and we need to look past that and score some runs.”
The Donkeys bowling attack is led by the competition’s leading wicket taker, Jordy Maher, while the likes of Ben and Jake Hardwick, Jake Elphick and Corey Wilson round out a daunting prosect for Plains.
“For me, it’s Ben Hardwick who I usually struggle with. He has gotten me out a few times before last match,” Armstrong said.
“Jordy Maher is obviously the one to watch, he was the bowler of the season and he is a left arm quick, and he bowls on the stumps, which is all you need to do.
“They bowled on the stumps last time and I’m sure they will again on the weekend.”
Armstrong agreed with Gill and said Plains would prefer to be the outsiders against an in-form Adelong on Sunday.
“I reckon the underdog tag for us is the better thing, we have nothing to lose and we don’t have to meet any expectations,” Armstrong said.
“We know we can win but the pressure is on them. We can bowl and bat well and I think the underdog tag makes it a bit of a challenge and that is a good thing for us.”
While Adelong and Plains meet at The Bull Paddock on Sunday to see who progresses to the second week of finals, the major semi-final will be played between Coolac and Wyangle at The Bull Paddock on Saturday.
Coolac, who finished as minor premiers, enter the match with more cricket under their belt and a big win over Plains in the final round of the season, locking them is as competition favourites.
Wyangle can’t be discounted though, especially if they produce their best bowling attack of James Goode, Dean Crane, Brenton Hotham, John Breed and Jimmy Webb.
The winner of the match will progress straight through to the grand final on March 6, while the loser plays the winner between Adelong and Plains at The Bull Paddock next weekend.
Elders Cup finals draw
Saturday 1pm: Coolac v Wyangle at The Bull Paddock.
Sunday 1pm: Adelong v Tumut Plains at The Bull Paddock.