'It always seems to happen against Laidley'
DOWN on key players and facing the toughest road trip in Ipswich West Moreton Cricket, Brothers skipper David Richardson is still surprisingly upbeat about his side's chances against Laidley today.
It may be the extended work and cricket break Richardson enjoyed over Christmas. Or it could be Brothers' recent two-day record against Laidley.
Both sides are well-aware of how things went in their last meeting in the extended format - Chris Smith claimed 13 individual wickets and Brothers romped to a grand final victory.
That Smith is unavailable for today's pivotal one-versus-two match is a small wrinkle in Richardson's plans.
Missing Mick Ridgewell and Taylor Peach makes the situation harder again.
"It seems to happen all the time, we always get Laidley at a time where we're probably not at our best,” Richardson said.
"It's always a tough task going up there, but we've still got a very good side.”
With Smith and Peach out the Brothers bowling attack takes a significant hit.
So it was no surprise when Richardson shared his greatest hope for how today's play will start.
"The key will be to win the toss. I haven't won the toss all year,” the skipper said with a laugh.
"Win the toss and bat first, put a decent score on then apply a bit of pressure in the second week.”
Even if Brothers do lose to Laidley, their two-two destiny is still in their own hands with three more rounds to play.
Richardson is confident Brothers are on pace for a top-two finish in the race to retain their 2017/18 silverware.
"If we drop this game, we've got to win the last two to secure a second spot, and that's what we're chasing,” Richardson said.
"If we don't win this game it's not the end of the world, but it does put more pressure on us to win the last two games.
"Given that we beat Norths before Chrissy, that put a bit of a gap between us and them.
"Norths can definitely beat Centrals. They're a competitive side and showed that against us.
"It becomes easier for us if Centrals beat Norths and push them out of the way. Norths get the win, and now there's two teams chasing us.”
As is usually the case when talking about the undefeated Blue Dogs, the first name thrown into discussion was Laidley skipper Alex Welsh.
Welsh leads all-comers by a significant margin in the run-scoring stakes this season, but has been just as handy with the ball in his hands as well.
Only Richardson boasts more wickets to this point of the season.
The Welsh-Richardson battle will be an interesting minor subplot in what promises to be a cracking contest between the top two sides to this point of the season.
"Absolutely he's the key man,” Richardson said of his counterpart captain.
"He got some runs against us in the first game with a big hundred (in the earlier one-day match this season) but before that we've been able to contain him pretty well.
"I'm confident we can get him. But then if he misses, there's Mick and Gerard Sippel there to take up the slack.”
Richardson pointed to the record innings Laidley put on against Redbacks just prior to Christmas as proof you must always be on against the Blue Dogs.
"They put 400 on them. They can do that to pretty much any side,” he said.
After a middling one-day showing, Richardson said the Brothers squad was excited to get back to their bread and butter format.
"Everyone is keen and refreshed,” he said.
"We're not a great one-day side and we know that, so everyone is a bit more excited that we're into the phase of two-day cricket now. It suits our style a little more.
"”We're all a little older, and we find the two-day game keeps us in the contest longer. We proved that last year when we didn't lose a two-day game.
"We're basically running with the same side as we did last year, with the exception of Mitch Weatherhead. if we get on a roll, we'll be hard to beat from here-on out.”