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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Halfway to Eternity

The Christmas/New Year break has arrived, with Kiama appearing fairly comfortable in the top three grades in regards to finals positions, and having won their past three matches in 4th Grade.

At the start of the season, the Cavaliers couldn't have asked for a better position to be in.

4ths find themselves a little below mid-table after the first half of the season, but have put some good performances together over the past five weeks. They are one of the most youthful sides in the competition. Having learned how to win, they are beginning to go on with the job.
The majority of this side have played together now for 18 months. The most pleasing part of this is that players from this team are beginning to make strides into higher grades, and make their mark. Winning matches in 4th Grade is always an optimum result. From a Club point of view, the best part of 4th Grade winning is seeing young individuals performing and learning, and then moving on to the higher echelons to do the same thing.
4th Grade are not without a chance of making the finals, but to do so they will have to find a way to defeat the teams from other Clubs that are made up heavily of older, more experienced players, from Oak Flats and Lake Illawarra. It is not beyond them if they can continue to improve at the rate they have been.

3rds have had a diverse season, where almost any result is possible on any given day, but are still established in the top two at the break. Despite the revolving door of playing personnel that all Grades have faced this season, 3rds have, for the most part, pulled themselves out of dire situations to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. The only stumbling block was the disconcerting outright loss to Lake Illawarra, where the side was bowled out twice in a little over three hours. More pleasing was the repeat of last season's final round where, having lost first innings points to Oak Flats, the Cavs came back to snatch outright points in a thrashing run chase last on the second day.
Like last season, 3rd Grade have the look of a potential finalist. Even the most cynical observer could not possibly believe that they will perform in Jan/Feb 06 like they did in Jan/Feb 05, where they could barely scratch two victories together. The job now is to finish in the top two, and carry on from there.

2nds have had a shaky ride, but still find themselves in 4th spot heading into January, with a good draw in front of them if they are good enough to take advantage of it. Having dropped the opening match to Shellharbour, and had rain interruptions against Gerringong and Jamberoo, the side has done well to be in the position it finds itself in. In a strange twist, Kiama find themselves struggling a little, in what is undoubtedly the weakest 2nd Grade competition in years. Player unavailabilities and weather haven't helped, but the batting in the side is struggling, and the tail can't be relied on to score the runs every week. The two matches this season against Albion Park has proven that they are no longer the force they once were, and that most of the teams are on an even keel.
Finishing second last season proved to be no advantage, and the likelihood of finishing in the top two this season is slim. The job at hand is to find a batting order that works, and a bowling attack that is balanced.

1sts have bounced back after last season's disappointments to sit safely in 3rd position, in a breakaway from the bottom four sides. In fact, apart from the capitulation against Lake Illawarra, it could have been seen to be a perfect start, despite the loss to Albion Park and washout against Oak Flats. The outright defeat by an innings of Warilla in the second round, followed by first innings points over Jamberoo, and the repeat of these victories in the one day games, was a wonderful achievement – perhaps felt more by the elder former First Graders in the Club than those who actually participated in these matches.
The team still appears to be feeling for its optimum balance, and this will be an important part of the post-New Year proceedings. Settling on the batting order, as well as the bowling attack that will serve 1st Grade best will be imperative if they are going to secure a finals position, and then proceed from that position to challenge for the title.

If – and I do say if – all of the Club's players are available for selection in January, it is going to pose the selectors some interesting problems. Once again in Kiama, there appears to be surfeit of bowlers, and a lack of batsmen (or, at the very least, a lack of batsmen scoring runs!). There continues to be discussion regarding the Club's three best glovemen, and how they will be selected for the remainder of the season. 2nd Grade, at full strength, seem to have 11 bowlers to fit into 3 or 4 spots available, and no one seems to be able to agree as to who deserves those spots.

No doubt, the selectors and captains will be spending Christmas dinner wracking their brains over what will be the best combination for everyone concerned. What is just as important is that every player is steeling themselves to give their all, no matter where they are selected to play. We are, after all, a Club.

To all readers of Through The Eyes Of The Almanack (all four of you...), may Christmas be everything you are looking for, and may you make Boxing Day without a hangover. Cheers.

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