Box Hill enters the finals having suffered two straight defeats, but the captain is confident his team can turn things around. This is why.
As his team prepares to play in its second finals game in three seasons this weekend, BOX HILL captain Tom Newman is optimistic that his team will rebound from a recent slide in form.
After losing to Noble Park on Saturday for the third time in four games, the Mustangs concluded the season in fifth place with an 8-1-6 record.
The outcome followed earlier defeats to Endeavour Hills (sixth) and Melton (ninth), but given the level of competition, Newman believes a turnaround is not far off.
As the home-and-away season came to an end, there were just six points separating fifth from ninth on the ladder.
“The last two games haven’t been our best, but we took a little bit out of the second day of Endeavour Hills, being able to put a bit more pressure back on them and barring a bit of rain, we were a chance to take a reverse outright (win) which is quite rare,” Newman said.
“I think we’re not too far off, we’ve just got to fight with the bat.”
Nonetheless, Box Hill enters the playoffs with the most wickets taken of any team in the competition this season, 131, 23 more than Werribee and five more than minor champion Spotswood.
The Mustangs have been paced by UK imports Brad Yates (501 runs at an average of 45.55) and Cian Dickinson (427 at 28.47), with Dickinson also taking a team-high 26 wickets at 15.62.
The return of Abu Siddiqui has been welcomed by the Mustangs, who have also benefited from the contributions of Hayden Rayner (23 wickets), James Box (20), and Muhammad Saeed (13). (12 wickets).
“The ‘Poms’ have been super, but Hayden Rayner and James Box have bowled really well – Saeed’s also bowled well and AB’s (Siddiqui) come back after spending a year in Sydney – they’ve really held us in a strong point with our bowling,” Newman said.
“It’s been quite easy to captain because even if we sort of been behind the eight ball, we’re one or two good overs from breaking the game open with the ball.”
With the exception of bowlers Parth Mehta (finger) and Noman Safdar (unavailable), who had been limited to five and six matches, respectively, Newman claims that the list was in good shape going into the finals.
After placing second at the end of the season, Werribee will be waiting with a team that has won the last two First XI titles.
“I don’t think they’ve had massive standouts looking at the stats with the batting and bowling – they’re just ultra consistent,” Newman said.
“I’m confident if we get everything right … in a final it becomes a little bit harder and they’ve got finals experience so it’s going to be difficult, but you never know.”
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