Centrals continue to build strong foundations as the club's first graders reach a new level.
Centrals continue to build strong foundations as the club's first graders reach a new level. Cordell Richardson

Centrals fear no-one as exciting players mature

CRICKET: Growing in confidence and maturity, Centrals have fielded a different first division team in recent seasons.

Once chasing Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association heavyweights Laidley, the Kookaburras are now the top grade side everyone else wants to beat.

Experienced coach Scott Barrett always keeps his team's successes in check, especially after Centrals won last season's major first division grand final.

But preparing for Saturday's mouth-watering IWMCA battle at Limestone Park, the astute Barrett provided some valuable insights into why Centrals no longer fear Laidley - the team that dominated the Ipswich regional competition for a decade.

"We've got a good group of guys now that's pretty stable,'' Barrett said. "They have been for the last four or five years.

"It's an age thing too.

"When I first started coaching, I had a lot of youngsters in there . . . and one oldie in that side.

"Now I've got guys that are well and truly in the twenties that have played a lot of cricket and they think about the game on and off the field . . . and that contributes to training sessions as well.

"The morale around the club is really good. All our grades get along, all train together and that's another big bonus.

"I can't be more happy how the club's been going.''

Centrals first-year skipper Matt Guest typifies the club's energetic and enthusiastic cricketers moving up the ranks.

Spinning allrounder Guest has taken over from last year's wise grand final-winning leader Wayne Jones, earning instant backing from Barrett.

"He's doing okay,'' Barrett said, noting Guest's confident style of cricket.

"It's actually good (that's he captain). It makes him think about the game a little.''

Guest led the Ipswich Pioneers side that comfortably won the first of three Webb Shield encounters with Warehouse last Sunday.

After the Pioneers posted a healthy 280 in 47.4 overs, stand-in coach Barrett said a score of 300 was not beyond the current group of batsmen.

The Pioneers bowlers finished the job, dismissing Warehouse for 202 in the 44th over.

Disappointed the Webb Shield has been reduced to a best-of-three series against one opponent, Barrett would like to see a stronger regional format restored.

However, he sees some value for promising cricketers like Guest, Troy Cooper and Dylan Blackman to step up.

Blackman scored 55 off 39 balls as all the Pioneers bats-men made positive starts.

With the Schaeffer Shield series starting next weekend, more players will have opportunities to press for future South Queensland and Queensland Country honours.

In the annual Harding Madsen Shield competition, Barrett said Centrals were progressing well. Their only loss was last weekend to Toowoomba front-runners Metropolitan Easts.

Centrals will finish second in their pool if Mets beat Southern District on Saturday.

However, Barrett was unconcerned about that prospect for the semi-finals.

"You still have to win some big games to win the trophy so it doesn't matter where you finish up,'' he said.

Game day

Qld Premier Grade: Saturday (10am) at Baxter Oval - Valleys resume at 5/296 against the Ipswich Logan Hornets.

Seconds: Hornets resume at 0/17 at Ashgrove after Valleys declared at 9/339.

Harding Madsen Shield Round 7: Saturday (10am) - Pool A: Western Districts Toowoomba v Northsiders at Captain Cook field, Toowoomba; Highfields-Railways v University at Highfields.

Points (games played in brackets): Laidley 36 (5), Northsiders 27 (4), Wests 21 (4), Redbacks 12 (5), Highfields-Railways 4 (4), University 2 (4).

Pool B: Southern District Magpies v Metropolitan Easts at Middle Park; Brothers v Northern Brothers Diggers at Ray Walker Oval.

Points: Centrals 30 (5), Mets 28 (4), Lockyer 18 (5), Diggers 11 (4), Souths 10(4), Brothers 2 (4).

IWMCA 1st Division: Central Districts v Laidley District at Limestone Park.

2nd Division: Thunder v Fassifern at Tivoli No.1; Northsiders v Brothers at Sternberg Oval; South East Redbacks v Laidley at Redbank Plains Reserve, Centrals bye.

3rd Division: Springfield v Northsiders at Marsden No.3, Redback Raiders v Centrals at Raleigh Oval, Redbacks Walesendia v Thunder Storm at Strollers, Bundamba Strollers v Thunder Ducks at Tivoli No.2, Laidley v Brothers Fassifern at Bichel Oval.

Sunday: Lord's Taverners - Ipswich Logan v Valleys at Baxter Oval.

Women's 1st Grade: Ipswich Logan v Wests at Graceville.

2nd Grade: Ipswich Logan v South Brisbane at Walker Oval.