BATTING EXPERIENCE: Brothers batsman Luke Dixon is one of the senior players with important roles in this weekend's first division semi-final.
BATTING EXPERIENCE: Brothers batsman Luke Dixon is one of the senior players with important roles in this weekend's first division semi-final. Rob Williams

Epic cricket battle for shot at glory



FINALS time is here. After a long season, the cream has risen to the top.

In first grade, Central Districts have captured their third minor premiership in 28 seasons on the back of their bowlers.

In a high-class topsy turvy match, Laidley lost 9/101 as Matt Guest (6/55) spun a web after the Bluedogs got to great start (1/117) thanks to their in form top order of Alex Welsh (59), Chris Wilson and Matthew Grassick (40).

Laidley slipped to third after that loss while Brothers snuck passed them into second after securing only their fourth outright victory in 28 years of regular season matches.

Brothers will today host Laidley at Ivor Marsden No.2.

Laidley must win to progress to the four-day decider starting next Saturday at Baxter Oval.

If it is a draw, Brothers will progress as they are the higher ranked team.

It is a replay of last season's grand final. Both teams have so much experience so it will be hard to split them.

Brothers eked out a two-wicket win at Laidley in December. Laidley set a new highest one day run chase record after successfully chasing down Brothers 283 at Marsden No.2.

Laidley lead the head-to-head record at this venue with 10-8 advantage. But in in finals matches, Brothers have a slight 4-3 lead.

Captains and left-hand spinners David Richardson (1st, 38 at 11.6) and Alex Welsh (2nd, 34 at 12.1) are leading wicket-takers.

Ben Gibson (5th, 21 at 17.4) and Mark Sharrad (11th, 15 at 19.7) are the best pacemen.

Batting is also evenly matched with Luke Dixon (3rd, 498 runs at 62) and Michael Ridgewell (5th, 433 at 62) up against Welsh (1st, 739 at 82), Mick Sippel (4th, 437 at 36) and Grassick (7th, 380 at 35).

It promises another epic encounter between the two.

Classic encounters

IN 2nd Division, Fassifern get a well earned break and the minor premiership after streeting the field.

Redbacks will host Laidley as a replay of the last weekend's game at same venue - Bruce Raleigh Oval.

The defending champions Bluedogs snuck into third place after securing more incentive points than Thunder did last Saturday despite their losses to the Redbacks and Fassifern respectively.

Laidley set the Plainsmen 277, but Brodie Kenyon (95) and Jason Andrew (55) combined for a match-winning partnership in the middle order despite Shane Lehmann (5/54 ) efforts.

Lehmann's brutal innings 49 off 31 in Laidley's 2nd innings almost singlehandedly pushed Laidley into third place.

Both teams are evenly matched.

Batting has Kenyon (6th, 346 at 35), Matt Baker (10th, 313 at 28.5) up against Ross Mitchell (3rd, 464 at 39) while bowling has Ray Coleman (2nd, 28 at 17) and Shane Ross (12th, 17 at 11) looking to outbowl (Grant Dean 8th, 20w at 16) and Lachlan Phipps (14th, 17w at 22)

The allrounders' clash is another mouth-watering contest with Lehmann (10th, 271r at 27; 9th 19w at 14) up against Matt Smith (9th, 276 at 25; 7th, 21w at 19.5)

Like first grade, it is a replay of last year's grand final which Laidley won by a mere two wickets over the four days.

This also promises to be another great encounter.

Third and Fourth Division play their last round today. All eyes are on Thunder Ducks and Redback Blacks contest in third grade.

Ducks have a one-point lead over Redbacks and winner will play in the three-match final next weekend.

Ducks have had an amazing unbeaten run which now includes last week nail-biting win over leaders Laidley thanks to Daniel Hewitt (103 not out).

Laidley can secure the minor premiership with victory over Centrals at Limestone Park.

Northsiders will play Fassifern in the 4th Divison final series beginning next Saturday.

Junior finals excitement

THE junior finals are also being played out at Marsden Complex on Sunday.

In Level 4, the equivalent of under 16s, Thunder Bluedogs will take on Beaudesert in the Ipwich/Logan competition at Baxter Oval.

Thunder Bluedogs are a joint team representing Laidley and Thunder. They have Australian under-16 legspinner Dylan McAteer playing for them while they might also look to allrounder Harry Sammut who has been a model of consistency so far this season with 280 runs at 40 and 13 wickets at 14.8.

Other players to have played well in the competition are Campbell Moore (Centrals, 405 at 58), Mitch Gardiner (CD, 209 at 26), Caleb Doyle (Northsiders, 272r at 30 & 9w at 15) and Geol George (CD, 11w at 7).

The Level 3 grand final will resume at Marsden No.3 for Day 2 with Marburg/Mt Crosby Thunder in a solid position over Centrals Maroon.

Thunder, at their halfway stage, are 2/126 off their 30 overs. Ethan Windolf achieved his highest score this season with 50 retired.

Brady Turner and Fletcher Madden have both scored 22. Rushila Tennakoon has 2/11 from four overs.

In reply, the Maroons are 5/96 in 30 overs with openers Ishan Pal (22) and Matthew Hayes (19) the only batsmen to get going.

James Bent has the amazing figures so far of 3/3 off four overs. Windolf and Turner have the other wickets.

Jack Hillier (Northsiders, 385 runs at 55 and 13 wickets at 13) and Daniel Skipworth (Centrals White, 194 at 97 & 11w at 3.6) have been the standout allrounders this season in Level 3.

Bent has been one of the best bowlers this season with 19 wickets at 8.2 while Jared Adamski of Laidley scored 470 runs at 67.

In the Level 2 finals, Centrals Kookaburras will take on Northsiders Gold on Walker Oval in the A Final.

Laidley Bluedogs will meet Centrals Maroon on Marsden No.4

Alex Fraser (406r at 135) has been a standout with the bat for the Maroons, but Cooper Young (Redbacks, 285 runs at 41), Jack Damrow (Kooks, 284 at 57) Jed Turner (Kooks, 279 at 56) Shannon Hoggard (Springfield, 279 at 31) and Joseph Schmalkuchen (Gold, 267 at 26.7) have all scored well.

The best bowlers this season have been Emily Titmarsh (Thunder Girls, 17 wickets at 8.2), Jack Verrenkamp (17w at 12), Tom Atkinson (Brothers, 17w at 8.8), Ryder Rundall (Kooks, 16w at 7.3).

Trinity Doyle, for Thunder girls, has taken 14 wickets at amazing average of 4.3.