Final berths up for grabs

ARMIDALE lost just its second game of the summer in Tamworth on Sunday but it could have also cost the side a War Veterans Cup Final berth on February 17.

Sunday’s eight wicket capitulation to Tamworth at No 1 Oval enabled Tamworth to join Armidale at the top of the WVC table on 20 points while Gunnedah’s gallant run-chase win at home against Narrabri kept it in the hunt for a final berth a well.

Gunnedah’s 6-240 in reply to Narrabri’s 4-235 took Gunnedah to 19 points and ensured the final round game against Armidale on January 20, at Wolseley Park, Gunnedah, will be a knockout.

Whoever loses is out. Simple as that.

It will also offer a contrast in batting fortunes.

Gunnedah has won its last two WVC games against Tamworth and Narrabri by chasing down totals.

Armidale’s batting has been its Achilles’ heel, scoring just 98 against Nowra in a three-run Country Shield semi-final win in Cowra, 76 in the Country Shield Final to Albury Wodonga Colts and then 142 against Tamworth in Sunday’s fifth round WVC match in Tamworth.

Armidale skipper Andrew Brownlie admitted his side’s batting had cost it dearly in recent games.

“That was never enough today,” he said after Sunday’s VC loss to Tamworth.

“We didn’t lose wickets early but we didn’t take enough singles and rotate the strike either. That put too much pressure on the middle order.

“But we haven’t been batting well either. 

“That’s two weeks in a row I’ve got out playing an ordinary shot. Shafe didn’t get away either and moving Brad Smith up didn’t work either.”

Openers Michael Dawson (25 off 87) and Alex Frost (15 (66) posted a 56-run opening stand but it was at a snail’s pace. Wicketkeeper Brad Smith is a clean hitter of the ball but his promotion to boost the run rate didn’t work and Matt Schaefer returned to the side but lasted just two balls before coming one of Jack McVey’s two victims.

Andrew Brownlie is hoping this Sunday’s “day off” will help recharge the Armidale batting batteries.

“We’ve had a lot of cricket recently, the boys might be a bit jaded,” he said.

They were also hoping Narrabri would beat Gunnedah after scoring a good 4-235 in their clash in Gunnedah. A Narrabri upset would have made Sunday week’s Gunnedah game null and void for Armidale.

Now it means the match is a knockout and all the good work Armidale has done to build a good representative season could be erased.

WAR VETS CUP TABLE: Tamworth 21 (1.76 nett run rate), Armidale 21 (.71), Gunnedah 20, Narrabri 5.

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