Brothers will host Western Suburbs at Ivor Marsden today.
Brothers will host Western Suburbs at Ivor Marsden today. Rob Williams

Brothers skip absent for biggest game of season

BROTHERS skipper David Richardson will be missing from his side ahead of their biggest game of the season so far, and he is offering no apologies.

While his teammates are slogging it out today in the middle at Ivor Marsden against back-to-back Harding-Madsen Shield premiers Western Suburbs, Richardson will be living it up trackside at Moonee Valley.

"Richo” has already copped some stick from his teammates, but the ever-dedicated clubman could not be swayed in his decision.

He admittedly "struggles in cricket season” to get on the punt, however the skipper gave himself a rare pass in the hopes of watching mighty mare Winx make it four straight Cox Plate victories.

"I'm definitely not going down for the fashions,” Richardson joked.

"The boys are up me about going to the races, but this is history in the making. If she makes it four in a row, then I was there the day the champion did it.”

Losing a player of Richardson's calibre ahead of such a crucial contest would normally be a bitter pill to swallow.

However Brothers are welcoming back some experienced heads whom the skipper believes can more than make up for his absence.

Luke Dixon returns after a number of weeks out, and will captain in Richardson's stead.

Quick Chris Smith is another key inclusion Brothers will lean on against a talented Wests top-order.

"Luke shores up our batting line-up. Last game against Lockyer, we were missing that someone at number four so it's good to get him back,” Richardson said.

"Chris Smith comes back this week which is big for us. Craig Mackay is back in too - he played last week but didn't bowl, which shows how well we bowled.

"I think they'll be ok.”

Richardson relayed whispers that Wests may also be down some players today. However the veteran knows better than to count your boundaries before they cross the rope.

"We probably haven't been tested as much as we would have liked to this point, we've had some comfortable wins,” he said.

"But Wests are a totally different scenario. I've heard they might have a few players out this week, but we will still have to take them on their merits.”

Although the skipper is excited to be away today soaking up the atmosphere at The Valley, he admittedly is disappointed he cannot be at Ivor Marsden today to witness the First Grade debut of recent recruit Andrew Richards.

Standing six foot seven inches, the towering lad from Northern Territory will be unleashed on Wests today.

"Our coach is about four foot eight, and he can't talk to him because he strains his neck looking up,” Richardson joked.

"He's just turned 17, bowls off-spin and from all reports he is fairly handy with the bat and ball.”

With Cameron Wood having come across from Redbacks in the off-season, the reigning IWMCA premiers now boast even greater depth than last season.

"Cam was unlucky not to take a wicket on the weekend, but he looked really good,” Richardson said. "You'll find he probably steps up against the better teams like Wests. That's the type of cricketer he is.”

Richardson knows it is a position of luxury.

"It seems whoever drops out of the side, there is someone else to come in,” he said.

"Every spot is up for grabs. If you've got 13 or 14 guys competing for 11 spots, it actually makes the job easier as captain and selector because everyone is keen to retain their spot.”

The skipper admitted he "would like a few more batsmen”, but said the early-season signs were positive.

"Jake Sarra has come into some form in the last few games after going back to opening the innings,” Richardson said.

Brothers sit two points clear of Wests atop the Pool B ladder, courtesy of bonus points accrued in earlier rounds.

Harding-Madsen Shield: Today (10am) - Brothers v Western Suburbs at Ivor Marsden Oval 2