MEREWETHER captain Simon Moore is not too concerned about winning the minor premiership, his focus is on ensuring the Lions batsmen are in form for the semi-finals.
Merewether (67 points) meet Wests (63) at Harker Oval on Saturday in what essentially is a battle for top spot. The front two have cleared out from Charlestown who are third on 49 points with two two-day matches to play after this weekend.
“No-one remembers who won the minor premiership last year, but they can all tell you who won the final,” Moore said. “Finishing in the top two is the key. The way the competition is set up, if you come third or fourth and it rains the weekend of the semi, you are out of play.”
Although flying high, the Lions have relied heavily on their bowling attack.
Moore, who has scored 501 runs at an average of 50, is the only Merewether batsman in the top 10 of the district averages. Fellow veteran Troy Goodwin (310 runs at 34) is their next best at 19th.
Merewether made 255 in their three-wicket loss to Uni last round, a score Moore described as ‘flattering’.
“Our batting wasn’t anywhere near good enough,” Moore said. “Matthew Gawthrop (96 runs) batted well for them, but our batting was poor. The 255 was a bit flattering. We were seven-for-150, put on 100 for the eighth wicket, and then lost two quick wickets. We have to do a lot better if we want to go far into the competition. Individually, our blokes need to be scoring more runs.”
Saturday’s clash with the Rosellas is one of four matches reduced to 45-overs per team after the first day was washed out.
Wests, led by NSW Country all-rounder Joe Price, beat Merewether in the Tom Locker one-day final and Moore said they will start deserved favourites.
“They are the best one-day team in the competition,” Moore said. “They have played good two-day cricket as well. The [outright] result against Wallsend was a great win for them. But any shortened form of the game suits them with the way they play. From what you hear, the Harker wicket is pretty flat and good to bat on. You have to try and bowl dot-balls and restrict their shots. They all like to score runs quickly so the more pressure you can put on with the ball the better. It is not a big ground either so someone like Joey Price, if he gets in, can rack them up pretty quick.”
Hamilton Wickham and Belmont, last year’s grand finalists, will be playing for their seasons when they meet at Miller Field.
In other reduced games, which though one-dayers won’t have bowling or fielding restrictions, Stockton are home to City and University host Toronto.
Charlestown (2-146 dec) have secured first-inning points against Waratah (101 and 1-12) at Kahibah Oval.
In the other two-day fixture, Wallsend (8-291 dec) will push for an outright win over Cardiff Boolaroo (50 and 5-38) at George Farley Oval.
Meanwhile, the final round of the Summer Bash T20 competition will be held at Passmore, Waratah, Harker and Lynn Ovals on Saturday.