And so it came to pass. On a wind-swept No.1 Oval on Saturday, when the mercury hit 35, Aaron Hazlewood proved the difference in Old Boys’ one-day win over West Tamworth – along with a teen duo who caused carnage with the ball.
Pre-match, Wests quick Brock Ridgewell warned that Hazlewood’s inclusion in Old Boys’ lineup for only the fourth time this season (his choice) made the four-time reigning premiers a much more dangerous proposition.
It was a prophetic statement, if not somewhat obvious given Hazlewood’s destructive blade work this season.
On a day when Wests No.5 Harrison Kelly’s 28 was the second best score of the match, the allrounder, elder brother to Test star Josh, struck a 24-ball 41 that included five fours and two sixes, before Kelly caught him off Shawn Mepham’s bowling to end the onslaught.
But after Wests, who won the toss and batted, were routed for 85 in the 27th over, his knock had inflicted a mortal wound and the competition leaders had beaten second-placed Wests for the second time in as many matches this season.
Old Boys overtook the paltry target in the 16th over for the loss of seven wickets, earning them double points. Opener Simon Norvill’s 14 was Old Boys’ second highest score, while Mepham claimed 4-11 off 3.2 overs to give Wests some hope.
The platform for Old Boys’ victory was obviously laid with the ball, with teen talents James Austin and Jack Richards the chief destroyers.
Allrounder Richards is much improved this season with bat and ball after benefiting from cricket training sessions at Sydney University since starting his economics degree this year. The medium-pacer finished with 3-2 off five overs.
Left-arm swing bowler Austin had 3-10 off 4.1 overs.
Old Boys captain Ben Middlebrook said of Austin: “He’s come through the grades. This year he’s playing first grade full time and he’s started to come into his own lately. The last couple of games he’s bowled really well.”
At Riverside 2, Bective East delivered their second commanding performance of the season to secure their second win of 2017-18.
Boasting their strongest side of the season, Bective bowled North Tamworth out for 131 in the 39th over after Norths won the toss and batted. Norths No.9 Brad Redshaw top-scored with 32.
Lochie Barton, 17, claimed 4-16 for Bective while Gerhard Labuschagne and Rod Fensbo both bagged two wickets.
Bective chased down Norths’ total in the 29th over for the loss of five wickets, with openers Toby Whale (41) and Nick Pearson (24) ensuring no early wobble. Barton chipped in for a 37-ball 29.