WINGHAM’S depth will be tested in tomorrow’s McDonald’s Mid North Coast Premier League cricket clash against Taree West at Johnny Martin Oval.
Matt and Hayden Essery and Mick Stinson are definite scratchings while skipper Ben Scowen understands his side could be without four or five regular first graders. On the plus side Scowen will return from commitments with the North Coast team at Inverell where he played in the Northern NSW Country Championships.
“It’s been a frustrating season with us not being able to put our full strength side on the field,’’ Scowen admitted.
Wet weather is also causing its share of frustrations for teams in the opening season of the premier league.
Wingham were solidly placed in last weekend’s game against Macquarie Hotel at 7/158 before rain called a halt to play. Stinson was in fine touch, cracking 51 – his second half century of the rain-marred season.
Scowen yesterday wasn’t sure who would come into the side as replacements tomorrow.
“And the way things are looking with the weather, we might be lucky to get on,’’ he said.
Meanwhile Taree West cricketers are keeping a close eye on the weather leading into tomorrow’s McDonalds Mid North Coast Premier League clash with Wingham at the Johnny Martin Oval.
The new season is a month old, however, Taree West players have spent precious little time on the field due to a bye, a general bye and wet weather. Last Saturday the West made a strong start in the clash against Port City when the heavens opened and ruled out play.
“We’re going pretty well when we get onto the field, but we just haven’t been there long enough,’’ team spokesman Jonathon Paff explained.
“It’s been frustrating.’’
Paff believes representative opening bowler Ryan Williams will be primed for a big effort against his former club. Williams switched from Wingham to Taree West this season.
He was in ominous form against Port City last week when be bagged three of the four wickets to fall in a fiery opening spell.
Paff isn’t sure if top batsmen Ben Jonas or Dean Mills will be available for this match. However, he said youngster Harry Croker should prove to be a real find for the side. Croker is in his first season of first grade cricket.
“He’s a natural athlete – especially in the field,’’ Paff said.
"He’s taken some unbelievable catches.’’
However, Croker will also have to mix playing cricket with training with the Newcastle Knights SG Ball rugby league side. He was a NSW under 16 representative last winter.
Taree West captain Josh Meldrum was away this week with work commitments but is expected to take his place in the side tomorrow.
United’s six point buffer
UNITED has opened a six point gap on the field in a rain-marred start to the inaugural McDonalds Mid North Coast Premier League cricket competition.
The Ricky Campbell-led side has 21 points and have skipped clear of Macquarie Hotel, this week’s opponents Wauchope RSL and Port City all on 15.
In further good news for the side veteran all-rounder Murray McCartney is the leading run scorer with 177 at an imposing average of 88.50. Sam Whitebread, a gain for United this year from Great Lakes, leads the wicket takers with Macquarie Hotel tweaker Josh Hyde with 10. McCartney showed touches of his best form last week in the game against Nulla when he took two wickets and scored an unbeaten 25 in United’s successful run chase. Matt Collier was also in strong form and top scored with 37.
United’s cause has been helped by last week’s round when they took maximum points against Nulla at Laurieton, with the other two matches washed out.
“We have a bit of a buffer there now, but that can change pretty quickly,’' Campbell said.
However, he added United will be keen to cash in on their strong start to the season.
“It would be handy to have a bit of a gap on the other teams going into the Christmas break,’’ he said.
Campbell returns for tomorrow’s game at Wauchope at Laurieton as does top order batsman Josh Ferris, who has been battling injury. Ferris opened for much of last season, however, he is likely to bat in the middle order tomorrow.
Campbell said United will field their best side for the first time this season.
Campbell doesn’t know much about Wauchope’s lineup, but he has at least played a couple of representative games at their home ground.
“It’s a small ground – a bit like Chatham and Oxley Oval,’’ he said.
“Wauchope’s been going pretty well – this should be a good test for us.’’
There will also be two games in Kempsey tomorrow.
Rovers will take on Macquarie Hotel. Macquarie has made a solid start with Michael Pelley and Josh Hyde making runs. Rovers are looking for their first win and will be stronger at home.
Nulla will be coming off a heavy loss to United last week. They’ll take on Port Leagues Magpies.
Led by Gordon Scott, Port will field an imposing side with an attack led by Brendon Badenoch, Jessie Schmidt and Jason Herdegen. Nulla need runs for their bowlers to dominate after a disappointing effort against United when they were bowled out for just 77.