HE was the top bowler in Mid North Coast Premier League cricket but United captain Ricky Campbell agreed Sam Whitbread has struggled in the opening games this season.
Whitbread has just two wickets at an average of 45 from his two games this year. He finished with 2/52 in last week's game against Wauchope RSL after going wicket-less in the opening round of the season against Rovers on a difficult day for bowlers.
In 2018/19 Whitbread claimed 31 scalps at 12.35. He was the leading bowler virtually from the first game.
But Campbell said Whitbread's slow start to the year is no great concern. He said Whitbread was consistent throughout 2018/19 so a dip in form is to be expected.
"He's probably putting a bit too much pressure on himself,'' Campbell said.
"Sam's lacking a bit of confidence and he has dropped some pace. But the wickets will come.''
However, Campbell assured Whitbread would continue to lead the United attack, even if his lean run continues a bit longer.
"We know what Sam's capable of and he's our strike bowler,'' Campbell said.
"Dropping him back to first change would do more harm than good. I'll back him to get back to get back to his best. And we've won two out of three games without our best bowler in top form, so that's a good sign.''
United will be at home to last start winners Port City tomorrow at Chatham Park. This will be the side's first game at Chatham since last season's grand final.
The premiers will be close to full strength, with opening batsman Matt Collier the only absentee. Campbell said the club's third grade should also have their full complement of players tomorrow, which is further good news for the club.
Campbell said there will be a slight adjustment to the batting order to cover for Collier.
"I'll make the decision on who opens on whether we bat or bowl first,'' Campbell said.
"There's a few blokes who can do the job.''
Port City's had a mixed start to the season, but scored a strong nine wicket win over Taree West last Saturday. Campbell isn't sure how much time their middle order has spent at the crease this season.
"We'll be looking to get some early wickets to get into their middle order,'' he said.
Campbell added that this could be just the challenge Whitbread needs to return to his best.