Brothers and Centrals first division players are looking for a hard-fought and fair grand final starting at Baxter Oval today.
Brothers and Centrals first division players are looking for a hard-fought and fair grand final starting at Baxter Oval today. Rob Williams

Battles for cricket glory wide open

WAYNE'S WICKET

GRAND final day is always a great occasion no matter which sport.

A season-long slog has come down to these two weekends for the local cricketers. There was 24 teams that started the season seeking premiership glory. There are now eight teams left competing for the four premierships on offer at the Ivor Marsden Complex at Leichhardt.

In the top grade, the last two premiers from the previous two seasons will contest the decider at Baxter Oval.

Defending premiers Brothers will take on the up and comers Central Districts.

The Brethren dispatched perennial finalists Laidley District on the back of their batting in last weekend's semi-final.

Steady batting throughout their innings, led by Luke Dixon (79), Jacob Sarra (57) and Craig Mackay (50), ensured they have a chance to defend their title. Chris Smith (7/49) obtained his best ever bowling figures in first grade as the Bluedogs couldn't chase the 330 required with so little time left, succumbing for 117.

This final promises to be another great match between two teams with so many recent clashes going down to the wire.

Centrals have defeated Brothers twice this season by two wickets in the two-day series and 10 runs in the one-day encounter.

This follows last season's fixtures where Brothers won by one wicket in both two-day encounters and Centrals got up by three wickets in the one-day match.

Both teams have long batting line-ups, as well as a good pace battery with a classy spinner.

Brothers will be on an emotional high for their skipper David Richardson and his pending retirement.

"Richo'' has been their longest serving captain and has always been a great ambassador for his club.

Richardson and I have been playing with and against each other since 1988, so it will be a bittersweet day to see a career of one of Ipswich's greats coming to an end. Richo only needs four wickets to pass 600 for the Brothers club.

Players to watch will be Mick Ridgewell, Taylor Peach and Cam Wood. All are danger men and all can easily take a game away from their opponent.

Centrals have been on a roll with their only two losses being one-day matches in early December.

Victory here will wrap up the Kookaburras most successful season ever with 15 wins so far, including the Baxter Big Bash T20 comp over the Hornets Colts.

Centrals' bowling unit is outstanding with a wide variety of every type of attacking options for most pitches or situations.

Rhys O'Sullivan, Geoff Klease, Luke Barrett and Mick Abbott have been pressuring out batsmen from all clubs with their pace and accuracy.

Offspinning allrounder Matt Guest has hit form at the right time. He has collected the most wickets after the Christmas break.

Kenyon shines

AS in first grade, second division has a replay of last season's semi-final - South East Redbacks v Fassifern.

Similarly again, last season's third placegetter is minor premiers Fassifern.

Fassifern have shown throughout the season that they have a quality all-round line-up with only one loss for the season to Northsiders.

Jackson McQuilty heads both the batting and bowling list in second grade, a remarkable achievement.

The offspinning opening batsman has 685 runs at 48.93 and 36 wickets at 13.03, which catapulted him into Webb Shield grand final team.

Jarrod Noe (414 runs at 46), Joel Gillett (509 runs at 36), captain Matt Morrison (24 wickets at 12.6) and Jack Freeman (18 wickets at 13.39) have all had excellent seasons.

Redbacks have been in great form recently, twice knocking over the defending champions Laidley in three weeks.

They also won the Reserve Grade Big Bash over Bundamba Strollers.

Talented sportsman Brodie Kenyon, who scored three goals for Ripley Valley FC last weekend, will need to continue his great form with the bat if the Redbacks are going to upset the Bushrangers.

Kenyon has 428 runs at 38.9, but also scored heavy in two Laidley games and T20 final.

Captain Matthew Baker (314 runs at 26) allrounder Matt Smith (284 runs and 25 wickets) and bowlers Ray Coleman (32 wickets at 17) and Shane Ross (22 wickets at 10) are players to watch.

Redbacks hope they can go one better than last season.

These top two grades play their matches over four days with minor premiers Fassifern and Centrals needing to be beaten outright.

Teams must bowl a minimum of 90 overs a day, starting from 10am.

Laidley's challenge

IN 3rd Division, minor premiers and defending champions Laidley will have their work cut out in taking on Thunder Ducks.

The Duckies have been on an amazing run, winning 12 of their past 13, all by large bonus point winning margins. They have beaten Laidley twice in that run.

Ducks have Dan Hewett who has been the star in this grade with 845 runs at 84.3 with four centuries and 30 wickets at 16.43.

Dylan Hewett (227 runs), captain Brent Gill (22 wickets) and Anthony Trimboli (267 runs and 25 wickets) have all been playing well.

Laidley have been the best team all season despite the Ducks' roll.

They have had their players chip in all season.

Captain Matt Hogan can call on Kris Meehan (21 wickets at 15.7), James Wilson (14w at 10.4), Noah Shepley (14w at 14.9) and Corey Jackwitz (13w at 17.5) with the ball.

Batting has been evenly spread with Tony Noffke (331 runs at 23.6), Jackwitz (279 runs at 35), Meehan (249 runs at 25) and Shail Parikh (248 runs at 31) all among the runs.

In 4th Division, minor premiers Northsiders take on Fassifern.

Northsiders have dominated this grade but have suffered a hiccup coming into the finals with back-to-back losses.

Tigers captain Jim Johnston (378 runs at 34), Nick Drain (425 runs at 42.5), Ashley McPaul (293 runs at 48.8), Ashley Brown (478 runs at 36.8 and 33 wickets at 11.1) and Rob Lewis (11 wickets at 16.6) have all been in great form.

Fassifern captain Jason Grimsey (271 runs at 24.6 and 23 wickets at 17.4), Graham Andrews (553 runs at 46.1 and 18 wickets at 19.8), James Stack (364 runs at 28) and Hayden Perrem (18 wickets at 13.2) have been the bushies best this season.

Third and Fourth Division play their usual 40 over one-day matches in the best-of-three grand final series.

Matches are played on Saturday and Sunday, and next Saturday if required.

The lower grade games start at noon.