Clean slate for cup contestants

By Gary Caffell


Cricket

It's back to square one for unbeaten Red Star when they contest the Wairarapa Cricket Association's Bidwill Cup final with Flight Centre Lansdowne at Queen Elizabeth Park oval in Masterton tomorrow and Sunday.

To say Red Star were the form team in the qualifying rounds would be a gross understatement.

Remarkably they won all their games outright - perhaps the first time this has been achieved in the history of the competition - and their points tally of 116 was a massive 52 more than that achieved by second-placed Lansdowne, who just scraped into the final from Turkey Red Greytown (63), Wairarapa College (62) and A1 Homes Kuranui Old Boys (61).

Unfortunately for Red Star, however, their qualifying round performances will count for nothing when the first ball is bowled tomorrow, unless the weather intervenes and not enough play is available for a first innings result to be obtained.

With the elements tipped to be "mainly fine" during the two days that seems unlikely to occur.

The rules for the Bidwill Cup make a strong first innings effort imperative as the team which leads after both teams have batted once will win the trophy providing the opposition can't recover the lost ground and go on to post an outright victory.

Lansdowne skipper Choi Jackson readily concedes Red Star deserve to start favourites, courtesy of their outstanding lead-up form but also sees that situation placing greater pressure on them this weekend.

"Everything depends on a one-off game now, what they've done before probably isn't going to mean a thing any more," Jackson said. "Hopefully for us that will play on their minds and we can take advantage of it."

Red Star captain Joe Hull is confident, however, there is enough experience in his squad for them to come through their final examination with flying colours.

"Most of our guys have played at this level for a while now and we know what has to be done to win big games like this," Hull said. "It's all about treating it like any other match. We formulate a game plan and trust it to work in our favour. It's really just business as usual."

Neither captain is certain as to what they will do if they win the toss as the state of the park oval pitch is something of an unknown factor with no senior club matches having been played there in recent times, and highly regarded groundsman Andy May having taken up a position in Palmerston North.

"We really don't know what the track will throw up, I guess we will have a look tomorrow morning and hopefully make the right judgment call then," Hull said.

Former long-time Wairarapa representative Chris Jefferies has been brought into the Lansdowne squad for this weekend's encounter due to the unavailability of top-order batsman Tom Adamson. Red Star, on the other hand, have a full squad of 13 to select from.

Play is scheduled to get under way at 10.30am on both days.

How the two finalists stack up, page 23.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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