ECHUCA has excited the Goulburn Murray Cricket competition this season, but has the chance to make an even bigger statement this weekend.
It faces a surging Moama side, winners of four of five games this season and in brilliant form with the bat.
The responsibility for Echuca’s early success can be easily attributed with balanced performances from both bat and ball the key to its wins.
Matt Hinks (averaging 52.7) and Adam Jones (35.5) have been important up the top of the order, as has Brendan Prendergast (36.7), who shone with 56 in last week’s win against the Rochester Tigers.
But it’s with the ball it will need to lift to counter Moama’s dangerous batsmen. Simon Maddox leads the way with 10 wickets so far this season including five in round one against Stanhope, but the depth was on show last week with seven of eight bowlers taking a scalp.
For success against Moama, getting through the top order is absolutely crucial. Much has been made of Layton McCann’s 396 runs so far this season at an average of 132, but he’s not the only Moama batting weapon.
Six of its batsmen — Joel Murphy, Jordan McGregor, Brayden McGregor, Kirk Teasdale and Paul Henry — have made half-centuries this season; breaking down this deep batting line-uo is a scary proposition.
But fear was exactly what Echuca skipper Shaun Hon said his side wouldn’t have when the teams square off at the Moama Oval.
‘‘We’re really excited actually, Moama very deservedly has got the tag of being a powerhouse with the way they’ve started, but our bowling won’t change,’’ he said.
‘‘Even on Saturday, against two of the best batsmen in the league (Rochester pair Adam Ward and Jake Wright), nothing changed. We’re really excited and it will be tough, but nothing changes.
‘‘If we can knock them off, we know it will be a bit of an upset but it would put us 4-1 and in a really good position.’’
■WINNERS of three games straight, Tongala has a cracking chance to make it four this weekend when hosting Echuca South.
Tonny has pulled off three nail-biting wins — by 13 runs twice and then by two wickets — and has pushed firmly into finals contention. It sits in sixth position but level on points with fourth-placed Kyabram Fire Brigade.
South remains winless for the season but has played a tough schedule including the current top four.
■BAMAWM-LOCKINGTON United has struggled in the first five rounds of competition, and could be in for another long day if it can’t limit Cooma’s in-form players.
Cooma ripped through Kyabram’s batsmen last round taking the final nine wickets for 46 runs.
Greg Pearse has shown great form for United with 204 runs at an average of 51 to start the year, but the team’s bowling is in need of a lift, allowing more than 200 runs twice this season.
United has only taken points from its abandoned game with Echuca, stuck in ninth on the A grade ladder.
■ IN the weekend’s other clashes, Rochester’s two sides will meet as the Tigers play United, while Stanhope will host Kyabram.