One of the most anticipated early season Cricket Shepparton clashes will play out at the Numurkah Showgrounds tomorrow.
Perennial powerhouse Central Park-St Brendan’s will make the trip north to face Numurkah, which entered the Haisman Shield season as a warm favourite for success after a massive recruiting drive.
The Blues did not disappoint last week against Tatura, but captain Liam Gledhill has kept his charges’ feet planted firmly on the ground.
‘‘It will be a good game, it’s still a bit of the unknown early in the year,’’ he said.
‘‘We have a lot of respect for Central Park, they’ve had the wood over us for a long time, so we just want to stay in the game as long as we can.’’
Former Cobram superstar Shaun Downie (56 not out and 2-21) and returning Numurkah junior Dylan Grandell (29) impressed last week, with Gledhill hoping his troops can remain consistent with their performances.
‘‘We want to be really consistent with our lines and really concentrate on the areas we bowl to build pressure,’’ he said.
Opening bowlers Matt Cline and Tim Arnel took five Tatura wickets between them in round one, and will only get better as a pairing as the season progresses.
‘‘It’s good to have a strong opening bowling attack,’’ Gledhill said.
‘‘They’re still a few weeks away from peak fitness, so they’ll only get better each week.’’
The Tigers only just fell over the line by one wicket against Shepparton United last week, and coach Andrew Cowen is hoping for a stronger effort from his new side.
‘‘It wasn’t our best performance by any means, but we were lucky enough to escape with the win,’’ he said.
‘‘Half of the season’s points are up for grabs in the first two months, so you can’t afford not to play well.’’
Cowen, along with Brendan Scott and Ethan Baxter, will come into the side to take on Numurkah, with Rohan Larkin and Rhiley Lau confirmed as two of the three players set to make way.
‘‘We will have a bit of a different look at things this week, but these established A-grade cricketers coming in will help strengthen our list,’’ Cowen said.
‘‘I think what I’m excited about is getting a good gauge of where we’re at, Numurkah was a big mover in the off-season but we’ll know more come Saturday night.
‘‘It should be a good contest and a measure of how even the competition is this year.’’