Bays look to break back into top four

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bays skipper Brad Schmulian wants his team to push on this weekend

It's hard to believe that Christmas is once again upon us, a time of the year that also signifies that the cricket season is officially at the half way point. After the conclusion of tomorrow’s matches the Premier cricket sides will take a short sabbatical before the season resumes in the second week of 2013.

This weekend also represents the last round of two-day matches until the competition resumes again in February, with the Jeff Crowe Cup once again taking centre stage early in the new year. Tomorrow's games are therefore crucial for all sides as they look to consolidate their position on the ladder.

ILG East Coast Bays currently sit fifth in the Major Championship but have given themselves every chance of breaking into the top four after a strong first day performance against Papatoetoe at the Recreation Ground. Bays skipper Brad Schmulian took six wickets as the home side were dismissed for 223, and his team then made a solid start to their reply, reaching 94/1 before the close of play.

“We had the majority of the running last week,” said Schmulian. “Our bowlers did a good job until their final pair put on 50 for the last wicket which helped them up to a big score. That was frustrating but we are still on top in the game.”

Bays were unable to use Donovan Deeble with the ball last week as he was troubled by a back injury, but a promotion to the top of the batting order proved to be an inspired move as Deeble raced to 67 not out. “He has a niggle and we want to preserve him for the Auckland 'A' matches after Christmas,’’ said Schmulian. ‘’Having him open the batting seemed to work well as it gave him some focus and responsibility at the top of the order. He kept it simple and waited for the bad balls.”

The top four teams in the Major Championship are separated by just 5.19 points and Schmulian knows his side will be right in that mix if they are able to secure first innings points this weekend:

“The top four is pretty congested and we have aspirations to be in there. Overall this season we have slightly underachieved having lost a couple of games we should have won but we are in good form at the moment having won two T20 matches, and if we get over the line on Saturday it will be four consecutive before the Christmas break.”

Leaders Takapuna have already gained more than 10 points in their current match with Parnell having locked up first innings points on day one at Shore Road. With a 167 run first innings lead Taka look well set to push for an outright victory, but the hosts are not to be taken lightly having won their previous two matches reverse outright. Cornwall require 227 runs for a first innings victory at Ken Maunder Park after The Fox Suburbs New Lynn batted out the entire opening day. The final Major Championship match looks like being a nail biter with New World Victoria Park Grafton United needing another 30 runs for victory, but with only three wickets to spare against Howick Pakuranga at Victoria Park.

In the Minor Championship HRV Birkenhead City's undefeated streak is on the line after Ellerslie posted 314 on day one. Birkenhead reached 30/0 in reply but still have it all to do if they are to maintain their near 5 point lead at the top of the table.

North Shore are the only side within touching distance of the leaders and require only 52 runs more with seven wickets in hand against Eden Roskill at Keith Hay Park. Shore have won their previous two matches outright and will undoubtedly be going for the throat again if they can wrap up the first innings points.

In the final game Barfoot & Thompson Waitakere City will resume on 74/1 in pursuit of Auckland University's 294.

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