TAREE United captain Josh Ferris said opposing sides would be foolish to write off Great Lakes in this season's Manning T1 cricket competition.
This is despite the Dolphins' poor start to the campaign. Last season's grand finalists have won just one game from five starts and are languishing in last spot. However, they are assured of a finals berth in the four team competition and Ferris expects them to be big improvers in the second half of the season.
"They're only going to get better,'' Ferris said.
"I know they're starting to get a few players back.''
Great Lakes skipper Ryan Clark injured his shoulder in the opening game of the season against United and hasn't played since. Ferris understands he'll probably return in the New Year.
"Their T2 side is struggling this year so they don't have the depth to cover when they have players away or out injured,'' Ferris said.
"But if they can get something close to full strength then they will be competitive.''
As Ferris has previously noted, a side can finish last after the competition-proper, then win three games in the finals series and take out the premiership.
He pointed out that at drinks last week against United the Dolphins were set to post a competitive score, but fell away from there to be out for 126 after some excellent bowling from Jackson Witts and Ricky Campbell.
"They didn't have either of the Clark boys available either,'' he said.
United's win over the Dolphins and Gloucester's shock defeat of Wingham last Saturday leaves United alone on top of the ladder.
United meet Gloucester on Saturday at Chatham Park.
"You never know what sort of a side Gloucester will have away from home,'' Ferris said.
"But if they're close to full strength it will be a good game. They scored 180 against Wingham last week and that's a big effort. If you score between 160 and 180 you'll win more games than you lose.''
United will be without Damon Minett and Murray McCartney on Saturday but Tom Burley and Dean Mills return.
Ferris said United are 'getting the job done' each week without any player being consistently outstanding. He added a pleasing aspect of the win over Great Lakes was the form of opening batter, Matt Collier, who posted a half century.
"Matt's struggled a bit this season so it was good to see him get some runs,'' he said.
Gloucester captain Ryan Yates said the win over Wingham was timely. Most of the batters contributed to the innings of 181 while he said his bowlers produced the most consistent effort of the season to restrict Wingham to 151.
Great Lakes will be at home to Wingham in the other match.
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