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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Work to be Done

The opening to the South Coast cricket season has probably illicited more questions than it has answered, pointing towards yet another year where the strong remain strong and the weak remain uninspired. It also proved that Kiama need to do a lot of work if they are to remain competitive in this environment.

While it was no surprise to see The Rail defeating Shellharbour City, and Oak Flats caning Jamberoo in their respective 1st Grade fixtures, the relatively comfortable victory by Warilla over reigning premiers Albion Park came from out of the blue. After last season's disappointing finish, it must be gratifying for their supporters to see the Kooka's come out strong in the season's first round. Having been so successful for so many years, it would be no shock for Warilla to be back in the thick of things this season. As a Club, their training and preparation has always been of the highest quality.

Kiama's loss to Lake Illawarra in the first round is disappointing more for the size of the defeat than losing in itself. Having dismissed both Lake openers for ducks, a total of 167 was still more than manageable. Being bowled out for 63 once again highlighted our Club's continuing problem with batting strength and batting depth through the Grades. Only skipper Matt Meurant and the extras column managed to reach double figures. It is all and well to mention that the Club had a number of players unavailable for the weekend – the side that played 1st Grade should have been more than capable of reeling in that total.

The Second Grade competition looks to be, at this very early stage, a race between the same three or four teams. Despite being completely thrashed by premiers Oak Flats, Albion Park will no doubt be a force once again. One can only imagine that they suffered from a lack of numbers like other Clubs last weekend.
Surely this situation, which occurs every season, should force the District to see that there is no need for 2nd Grade to start their competition on this weekend. 1st Grade are the only Grade that plays two full rounds, and to do so requires starting on the weekend before the October long weekend. Surely common sense should prevail, and in future 2nd Grade will start on the same weekend as 3rd and 4th Grades do. This would mean that these three lower Grades can all play to the same draw, bringing continuity to the season. Unfortunately, common sense and decisions made at a higher level do not always go hand in hand.

Kiama's victory in 2nd Grade against Gerringong was one of the best that I personally have been involved in. Seven of the selected players had only four 2nd Grade matches for Kiama between them, with five of these players on debut. Despite this situation, and an untried captain at the helm, 2nds outplayed a Gerringong side that are also suffering a player shortage.
Matt Cook continued on from last season's form, taking 4/30 from eight terrific overs, while Luke Bombaci again proved his worth with 3 wickets and 10 not out with the bat. Both Cooky and Bomba should be automatic 2nd Grade selections this season, despite Luke's stated reluctance on the issue. The time has come for younger players to move into the 2nd Grade team, especially those whose talent is wasted at a lower level. If our Club is to continue to improve we need some fresh faces and fresh attitude on the scene.

Though the Club has a number of players returning for the next round beginning on October 7, it is obvious at this early stage that Kiama needs its players to stand up and be counted this season. The depth, especially in batting, is worryingly low, and it means that everyone has to take stock of themselves, and lift themselves to new levels. Success does not come without putting in the effort, and the attitudes of players in the Club must change if Kiama is going to have a successful season.

Time to start thinking to yourself – what do you want to achieve this season, and what are you willing to do, or to sacrifice, to make that happen?

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