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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Individualising the Team Game

On a weekend where the top three Grades again asserted a certain degree of dominance over Jamberoo, and individual efforts were again the lead story, one can only ask “What is going on with Fourth Grade? Have they slipped into the Twilight Zone? Are they still playing? Where are the results?” Hopefully more news will be available following this weekend...

First Grade was again dominated by the new acronym MSJ – Meurant Scifleet Jones. The triumvirate again carved out the majority of the work in disposing of a Jamberoo team desperately trying to rebuild itself.
Dale's century was his first for Kiama in 1st Grade. He has scored them just about everywhere else - 2nd Grade, Kiama juniors, junior rep teams, Burns Cup, even overseas in the united Kingdom – but his 128 not out was his first in the top Grade for us. To some eyes it has been a long time coming, but surely centuries are not the be all and end all of batting (I guess I am biased, as I did not score one in Grade cricket...). Consistency is the key, and that is what Dale is beginning to bring to his batting. He is the dominant player at the top of Kiama's order, and the key to big team totals. He of course carries a double burden in being a key to the bowling attack, and his figures of 2/21 were vital again last weekend.
Matt added yet another half century to his aggregate this season, sharing a partnership of 140 with Dale for the third wicket. Like Dale, he is an important part of the bowling attack as well, taking 3/25 to complement his runs.
Josh just can't seem to get going with the bat since he won the batting average 18 months ago, something that will no doubt be troubling him. Perhaps the key is for him to go in without putting pressure on himself, and trusting his instincts for a few innings. Thinking too much can muck up one's batting just as regularly as not thinking enough. It doesn't seem to have affected his bowling too much, providing another classy spell last weekend in picking up 3/36.
The scorecard shows that these three again provided the impetus and the bulk of the winning formula for First Grade. No doubt the Club's opponents have also noticed this imbalance, and will be planning for it appropriately.

Second Grade won its match against Jamberoo, but some general ineptitude, loss of concentration and other factors made it a lot closer and a lot tougher than it should have been. In other words, business as usual for 2nds.
Jamberoo were bowled out for 125, but it should have been about 70. Missed catches, and an ambivalence in the field that defied the unusual sight of a pre-game warm-up gave Jamberoo more opportunities than they deserved. You can completely exonerate Jordan Inwood from this – he was fantastic, earning the Kiama equivalent of Mike Hussey's nickname “Mr Cricket” in a tireless fielding effort. Following this, the batting failed to live up to expectations, and struggled to chase down a mediocre total with any dominance. It was a given that there were a couple of decisions that probably went against their batsmen, but this cannot disguise the fact that passing a small total eight wickets down against a team that are in no way a threat to make the finals was not a great performance.
Steve Holz continues to show his other bowlers how to get wickets in 2nd Grade – by bowling at the stumps. It is an underrated commodity in this day and age. While openers Brendan Shaw and Daniel Reilly bowled well, as their figures attest, they took a combined one wicket to Steven's three, by not following the golden rule – if the batsman misses, you hit.
Mick Norris put in his best performance of the season to date, taking 2/23 with the ball and a match-winning 30 runs with the bat. But it was the way he did it that was more impressive. His second spell with the ball homed right in on the stumps, with added pace and good movement. His batting was filled with the strokes we all know he can play, with aggression and intent. It was the best I have seen Mick bat in the past 18 months. After a slow start, he is getting closer to his best, and that's what the Club needs.

Third Grade returned from the bye to smash Jamberoo by 10 wickets, and barely raised a sweat by doing it. In a performance that 2nd Grade should probably have emulated, Kiama bowled their opponents out for 70, and got the runs in a hurry without losing a wicket.
Questions still abound for 3rd Grade. Is Luke Bombaci's lack of practice affecting his bowling? He has so far been far less effective than he was last season. He went on a run spree at opener last weekend, but the majority of the 70 Jamberoo runs came from his bowling. Certainly there is no need to panic yet, but hopefully some reappraising of the situation will bring better results in the future.
Bryn Coleman took his relegation to 3rds well, and finished not out in the run chase. He has a very promising future, not only as a batsman but as a real team player. His introduction to Grade cricket this season has been highly successful thus far, and hopefully his elevation back into 2nds is only a mere formality.
Josh Elliott finished with the remarkable figures of 6/9, which included 4 wides. Jellie is an enigma in the Club, one who seems to bounce around Grades like he enjoys bouncing batsmen at the crease. Currently recovering from another shoulder injury sustained during the football season, Josh has not extended himself this season, and as such is not pushing the higher Grades. Despite this, he is one of the few bowlers our Club has who is an enforcer, who has the presence and (more importantly) pace to run through opposing teams. Figures like those taken last weekend will ensure he is not resting in 3rd Grade very long. At peak fitness and form, Josh is a key ingredient in the premiership push by 2nd Grade – or even 1st Grade. His season has better tales to come.

Can Kiama threaten for several premierships this season? Are all Grades travelling as well as they believe they are? You can bet that this weekend's matches against perennial antagonist Albion Park will shed more light upon those thoughts, and give a much clearer picture of the journey ahead.
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