O'Farrell Cup challenge comes early

Cricket

OPPORTUNITY has knocked for Griffith cricket and a full-strength representative side is ready to bring home the O'Farrell Cup from Wagga on Sunday.

The GDCA's sole challenge for the season, originally scheduled for the last slot on March 2, has been brought forward after an offer from West Wyalong to switch places.

Griffith didn't need to be asked twice, and has named one of the strongest line-ups in recent memory for Sunday's trip to Robinson Oval.

Skipper Marc Tucker is confident the team has gotten rid of its post-Christmas cobwebs and believes they are every chance of bringing the O'Farrell Cup to Griffith for the first time in four years.

"Everyone's in form and still going all right," he said.

"Wagga's always pretty good but with the team we've got, if we can get all the old heads to step up it should be a good game.

"West Wyalong couldn't put a team together, they emailed us and we said yes, just because if we win this week then we get a lot more cricket in.

"The aim is to win and get a few more games of O'Farrell Cup under our belts."

That mission has been given a huge boost with the inclusion of Leagues Club skipper Paul Plummer for his first representative game of the season.

Previously unavailable due to a troublesome finger injury, the star all-rounder is in blistering form with bat and ball.

"He can just take a game away in a couple of overs when he's batting and I've heard he's been bowling the best he has all year," Tucker said.

The experienced Plummer, who comes in for Coro duo Alex Flood and Satvir Chahal, said he is ripe to go and believes Griffith is in with a "big chance".

"They're not out of our league, definitely not," he said.

"My history with them is that they seem to just get us. The team we've got is very competitive and I think we're a big chance."

Plummer took two four-wicket hauls for the Panthers in their last two-day win over Diggers and after overcoming his finger troubles is ready to unleash in Wagga.

"I didn't want to play and not be at 100 per cent when there were younger blokes that could have done just as good a job," he said.

"But now I've had a fair bit of bowling in games, so let's go. I'm looking forward to it."

The core of the Griffith side remains unchanged from the team that fell to Cowra in the SCG Country Shield quarter-finals last year.

The top-order is strong with in-form Coro batsman Tim Rand and Exies pair Phil and Alistair Burge likely to bat top three.

Hanwood youngster Tom Shannon has been picked as a batsman only and will not bowl after suffering a minor injury on the weekend.

The bowling attack will be led by Chris Mansell, who is in career-best form for Exies.

"He's been getting a few wickets for us but he's been doing it consistently, all year - that's the main thing," Tucker said.

"Whippa's one of the main boys that has a bit of experience in rep cricket and if we stand up, all the young ones will follow suit.

"It's just a matter of the opening bowlers and batters starting well."

Tucker said he was keen to play on the recently-redeveloped Robinson Oval.

"They reckon it's a pretty good ground now. I haven't played there since it's been done up and it'd be nice to play there," he said.

"We were over there when it was being rebuilt and it wasn't too bad of a performance but we didn't have a side like we will on Sunday."

SQUAD: Tim Rand, Phil Burge, Alistair Burge, Tom Spry, Connor Matheson, Tom Shannon, Paul Plummer, Shaun Stubbs, Jarrod Cahill, Marc Tucker (c), Chris Mansell. Reserves: Tom West (bowler), Dom Brown (batsman)

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