Exies, Leagues Club vie for grand final spot

Cricket

THE toss of the coin tomorrow morning will play a huge part in determining who will face the Yenda Jets in next weekend's GDCA first-grade final.

Heavy rainfall throughout the week has both Exies and Leagues clubs wary of the demons that could reside in the surface at Exies No.1 Oval, where the two sides will contest their preliminary final on Saturday and Sunday.

But both captains appear likely to bat first if given the opportunity - despite the likelihood that the pitch and the conditions will heavily favour the bowlers.

"It'll probably be worse (than last week) I think," Exies captain Marc Tucker said.

"With the rain we're getting now, I don't know if it's covered up or not, but there should be a bit of juice in it early on Saturday."

Tucker has first-hand experience of the benefits of bowling first at the venue after Yenda won the toss and chose to bat in last week's major semi-final.

Exies bowled the Jets out for just 95 and while it was their own failure at the crease that proved costly, the wicket did wonders for the likes of paceman Chris Mansell, who took eight scalps for the match and was "unplayable", according to Tucker.

"I think that was the best we've bowled as a year as a team - hardly anyone got hit for runs," the skipper said.

"It was good to bowl first but definitely, if you can get runs on the board first it's a lot easier.

"We did well to get them out for 95, but we just didn't start well with the bat and that's what cost us."

Leagues Club captain Paul Plummer, who has his own in-form pace battery that would relish a green-top pitch, appears set to resist the temptation to bowl first should the Panthers win the toss.

"It would have to be a pretty ordinary pitch for us to choose to bowl first," he said.

"We did that once this year and it didn't work for us. 

"Unless it's really bad I think we'll bat. 

"In a final, runs on the board are so critical - it's hard to chase."

That's exactly where Exies came undone last week, and where Tucker is demanding immediate improvement.

"We've got probably the best batting line-up in the comp when we're firing at the same time," he said.

"The top four or five's got to fire this week for us to go any good.

"Hopefully that happens this week because we've shown all year that we've got the best bowling attack as well."

Exies will be boosted by the return of opening bowler Warren Bock, who comes in for Nathan Jones.

"It's a pretty tough call but it was probably more going on who played more games this year," Tucker said.

"Nathan had a few off due to work and injury and he understood that, so that's alright."

Meanwhile, the Panthers will make no changes to their line-up, with Plummer keen to build on last week's resounding eight-wicket win over Coro.

"Everyone was pretty excited, it was a good feeling, but we're straight into this week now," he said.

"If we don't win again, last week was for nothing."

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