TAREE West faced a rare selection dilemma this week leading into the Mid North Coast Premier League cricket clash against Nulla at South Kempsey.
“For the first time in about two years we had just about all our players available,’’ captain Josh Meldrum said.
“So I had a few headaches selecting the side – it was a good headache to have.’’
The West will be without Josh McLeod, however, strike bowler Ryan Williams returns to take his place.
“We’re just about full strength,’’ Meldrum said.
“We will miss Josh, but it’s good to have Ryan back on board.’’
Taree West opened their account for the season last week when accounting for Wauchope. Now Meldrum said it is imperative they get on a roll.
Taree West plays Nulla and Wingham in the final two games before the Christmas break. Meldrum figures if they can win at least one of those games they’ll be still a hope of making the four. They are currently in seventh place but 11 points adrift of the top four.
“The top five teams have opened a bit of a gap on the rest – we can’t afford to let them get too far ahead,’’ Meldrum warned.
Meldrum recalls that the side was in a reasonably similar position last year before mounting a challenge for a semi-final position in the second half of the season. They ultimately fell just short.
“Fielding was our problem last season – that cost us games,’’ he said.
“This year our fielding has been okay, but we just haven't had the numbers.’’
Meldrum doubts that any of his players would have previously been to the South Kempsey ground.
“I don’t think I’ve played there – if it was it was a long time ago,’' he said.
“I spoke to (United captain) Ricky Campbell and he said the outfield is really fast. I guess we’ll see what it’s like when we get there.
However, Meldrum doesn’t think the new surroundings will impact on his team.
“We just have to get our attitude right,’’ he said.
“If we do that the rest will take care of itself.’’
Nathan Johnson has been a rock for Taree West’s batting in recent matches. He carried his bat through the innings to make an unbeaten 49 three weeks ago against Rovers, while he scored a match winning 46 in the win over Wauchope. Johnson and Meldrum’s 68 run partnership turned the game in Taree West’s favour.
Meanwhile Wauchope will be at home to Port Pirates in another important clash tomorrow. The loss to Taree West resulted in Wauchope tumbling out of the top four.
Pirates are the unbeaten competition leaders and hold a three point advantage over second placed Wingham going into tomorrow's matches.
Defending champion Macquarie and Rovers share last spot on the ladder and meet at Oxley Oval, Port Macquarie.