GUNNEDAH is hoping home soil and its allround capabilities will do the trick when it faces Armidale on Sunday for a War Veterans Cup finals berth.
Armidale has won both their meetings so far this season but, with wins over Tamworth and Narrabri behind it and arguably its strongest side, Gunnedah is confident it can turn its fortunes around and claim one of the two spots in the final.
The winner is likely to play Tamworth for the title.
Tamworth takes on Narrabri in the other game.Gunnedah heads into its battle with Armidale strong on allround talent.
With the inclusion of Andy Mack, it has four genuine allrounders.
That’s not counting last-game hero Mitchell Swain.
His unbeaten 39 got them home against Narrabri.
“We’ve got some pretty handy allrounders,” captain Ben Middlebrook said.
“Trent (Hilton), Matt (Brady), Farran (Lamb) and Andy (Mack) all bat top six and open or bowl first change.”
They’ll be key to their chances.
That they’re in finals contention is a bit of a surprise even to Gunnedah.
“To be actually playing for a finals spot is amazing considering where we started,” Middlebrook said.
They were struggling for numbers for the local competition, had to pull out of the MA Connolly Cup and were flogged by Tamworth by 10 wickets in their opening game.
But since then their confidence has steadily risen.
It really started with the Narrabri game in the second round.
“That Narrabri game gave us heaps of confidence,” Middlebrook said.
“We realised we can actually bat.”
They made 3-257.
“These last two games (Tamworth and Narrabri) chasing 200 has been huge for us,” he said.
They’ll need to score in the vicinity of that to win on
Against Armidale last time they made 181 and that wasn’t quite enough.
“If we bat first we’ve got to get 200 plus on the board and make sure we stick our 50 overs out and keep them out there in the field for 50 overs,” Middlebrook said.
He pinpointed their fielding as where they really need to lift.
“We were dreadful against Narrabri and against Tamworth we weren’t much better,” he said.
“Our bowlers have been doing an okay job but our fielding has been pathetic.”
That could cost them in a big game.
Sunday is also the penultimate round of the MA Connolly Cup.
It’s just as tight for the finals race and Sunday’s round could go a way to deciding the semi- finalists.
The top team from each of the three conferences automatically qualifies, with the final spot going to the next best-placed side on points.
At this stage, probably six sides are still in contention.
This weekend’s action sees Narrabri hosting Quirindi, Moree at home to Inverell and Tamworth Colts heading up the highway to Armidale.