WINGHAM are resigned to being without two top batsmen for the majority of the Mid North Coast Premier League cricket season.
Former North Coast representative Ben Scowen and promising middle order bat Hayden Essery will now only be available sporadically.
Scowen will be working while Essery has rugby league training commitments in Sydney.
Wingham will meet Wauchope RSL tomorrow at Cedar Party Reserve. Both sides are undefeated, along with United and Port City Pirates.
Wingham’s batting stocks could be further denuded this weekend with Brock Hynes also in doubt with a hand injury.
Skipper Michael Rees said Blake Sky would definitely come into the first grade XI while Blake Thompson will also be a possibility. Rees's brother, Tim, who has been in great form with the bat and ball, will also return. He scored 124 in second grade last Saturday.
“Tim had to work so he couldn’t get to Port Macquarie for our game. So he had a run with the B-grade boys and scored a hundred,’’ Rees said.
Wingham scrambled to a one wicket win over Port Magpies last start thanks to a match winning performance from veteran all-rounder Mick Stinson.
“We should have lost that game,’’ Rees said.
“It’s always good to get away with a win when you don’t play all that well.’’
Rees is having a lean run with the bat, with a pair of fours from his only two innings with Wingham. He’ll open the batting again tomorrow and isn’t concerned about his lack of runs.
“But I am about due for a score,’’ he added.
Rees was forced to withdraw from the North Coast side last weekend because of work commitments.
He said Wauchope boasts a quality spin bowler in Bailey Smith, who was a representative team-mate earlier this season.
“They must be playing well, so this should be a hard game,’' Rees added.
Top sides to clash
TWO sides will jump six points clear of the pack after tomorrow’s Mid North Coast Premier League cricket round.
This will feature the clash between four unbeaten sides. United take on Port Pirates at Chatham while Wingham clash with Wauchope RSL at Cedar Party Reserve.
All have 18 points, with United and the Pirates leading on percentages.
“The two winning sides will get a bit of a buffer and that’s handy, even at this early part of the season,’’ United captain Ricky Campbell said.
United go into the match after thrashing premiers Macquarie Hotel last week.
“it was a good performance with the bat and the ball,’’ Campbell said.
“But we’re still looking to improve on that.’’
United will be unchanged, with Dean Mills set to play his second game with the club. Mills missed out with the bat against Macquarie but snared four wickets with the ball. He played little cricket last season and Campbell said he’ll be better for last week’s run.
Pirates didn’t win a match last season.
“They’re a young side but they’ve stuck together and obviously the experience from last year has made them stronger,’’ Campbell said.
There’s been some indifferent weather in Taree during the week but Campbell expects the Chatham Park deck to be hard and good for batting. He’ll look to bat first if he wins the toss.
Taree West has the bye.