DEAN Mills returns to bolster Taree West’s fragile batting for Saturday’s McDonalds Premier League cricket clash against Rovers at Port Macquarie’s Oxley Oval.
This will be his first game of the season. Mills was due to play against Port City earlier this month, but the game was washed out.
Taree West captain Josh Meldrum said the former Northern NSW representative will be a welcome addition. Taree West’s batting has struggled in the past two matches. They got away with it against Wingham a fortnight ago when Wingham’s batting collapsed after Taree West struggled to make 135. However, Taree West could only manage 114 in reply to Kempsey side Nulla’s 167 last weekend.
Meldrum confirmed Mills will open. While Mills has spent no time in the middle, Meldrum is confident it won’t be an issue.
“He’s a good bat – he’ll be right,’’ he assured, adding that Mills will also give Taree West another bowling option with his tweakers.
“Our batting was very poor last week,’’ Meldrum said.
“We have to start putting more value on our wicket. We just played some silly shots.’’
Former Old Bar bowling all-rounder Hugh Polson comes into the side after making 70 in a B-grade game last week in his first game with the club. His brother, Blake, who captained Old Bar’s first grade side last year is another gain for the club. Polson played last week against Wauchope
“Blake will bat six or seven and he looked handy last week,’’ Meldrum said.
Matt Garland also returns and will probably open the batting with Mills. There’s further good news with the possible inclusion of strike bowler Ryan Williams, who broke his hand against Wingham a fortnight ago. It was initially expected Williams would miss two or three games. However, Meldrum said there’s a possibility he will be available tomorrow.
“Ryan might be right to bowl. We won’t risk him batting and we’ll have to hide him in the field, because he can’t take a knock on the hand. We’ll know later in the week,’’ Meldrum explained.
Meanwhile, two matches in next weekend’s premier league round will be deferred due to the Regional Big Bash round in Coffs Harbour.
The United/Wingham game and the Macquarie/Port City matches will both be played in January.
It is understood the Wauchope/Port City game will be played on the Australia Day long weekend. The Regional Big Bash was originally set down for October, but was postponed because of wet weather. Four representative sides will be involved, with Mid North Coast players in the Macquarie Stingers team.
Hamstring injury sidelines McCartney
UNITED face the prospect of being without veteran all-rounder Murray McCartney for the McDonalds Mid North Coast Premier League cricket competition until after Christmas as he battles a hamstring injury.
McCartney sustained the injury when playing for Manning in an inter-district over 35s last weekend.
He’ll definitely miss Saturday’s game against competition leaders Macquarie at Chatham Park. United will be minus three key players, McCartney, opening bowler Jackston Witts and all-rounder Danial Stone. Witts and Stone will only miss the one game.
“It’s not ideal, but we’ll scrape up some players and hopefully come up with a competitive side,’’ United captain Ricky Campbell said.
“We have a lot of depth in the club this season.’’
He said the loss of McCartney will mean a reshuffle in the top order batting.
“I’ll probably come in at three and Tom Burley at four. We also have Josh Ferris back and he can fit in anywhere,’’ Campbell said.
The absence of Witts and Stone will place also pressure on United’s bowling stocks. Both would have been expected to complete the maximum eight overs.
“They would have bowled 16 overs between them, so we have to pick them up,’’ Campbell said.
“We have a few blokes who bowl a bit of part-time, so they might bowl a couple of overs each,’’
Sam Whitehead, who has been impressive for United this season, will lead the attack. Whitehead is the leading wicket taker in the competition with 13 at 9.33. He played B-grade with Great Lakes last summer.
United had the bye last week and a loss to Wauchope the previous match saw them fritter away a six point buffer at the helm of the ladder. Now United sits in third place behind Macquarie and Port City.
“This is a pretty important game,’’ Campbell said.
“The side that is coming second (Port City) has the bye so they can only pick up three points. If we win we can go back to the top of the comp, but if we’re beaten we could drop back to fourth.’’
He nominated Macquarie captain and all-rounder Josh Hyde and hard hitting batsman Chris Cole as potential danger players. Hyde has 12 wickets this season.
In the other game Wauchope RSL will meet Kempsey team Nulla at Wauchope.
Nulla scored a solid win over the disappointing Taree West at the same ground last weekend, where a strong 76 from Ben Read provided the platform.
Wauchope currently sits in fourth place, two adrift of third placed United.
Wingham bats look to cash in
WINGHAM’S rejuvenated batting lineup will look to cash in on their home deck in the McDonalds Mid North Coast Premier League game against Port City at the Cedar Party Reserve tomorrow.
After compiling a season high 4/304 against Kempsey side Rovers before restricting the opposition to 187. Remarkably the previous week Wingham made just 20 against Taree West.
However, there was a vast difference in the firepower Wingham had for the two games. Last week they welcomed Josh Davis, Ben Cole, Mick Stinson, Matt Essery and Dave Rees back. Rees, Davis and Cole were all among the runs while Brad Staff contributed 49.
The game was played at Laurieton and skipper Ben Scowen said batting conditions were perfect.
“It was like batting on synthetic,’’ he said.
Now he is setting his sights on a similar effort against the young Port Saints attack. Cedar Party traditionally favours the batting side.
Scowen said getting wins on the board pre-Christmas will be vital as all sides can be below strength because of holidays when play resumes in January.
Wingham struggled to get their best side on the field earlier in the season due to players being unavailable, but Scowen is confident this problem is now a thing of the past.