WHEN the 2016-17 Bathurst District Cricket Association first grade season got underway, Bathurst City skipper Matt Willis was a little unsure of how his team would fare.
He need not have worried.
This weekend Willis’ Redbacks – who lost Kirby Earle and Matt Lawson from last season’s premiership winning line-up – will be playing for a spot in another decider.
They meet Rugby Union in the two-day major semi-final.
“I am really happy with how we’ve gone, you take the best bowler and leading run scorer out of anyone's team from the year before then you can come right back to the field,” Willis said.
“But we’ve found a way and other people have stepped up. Getting Mike Waldren really helped us out and Clint Moxon has stepped up as well.”
As Redbacks finished as minor premiers, if rain leads to a wash-out this weekend they will automatically advance to the grand final.
But Willis is keen to play and believes the semi-final will be completed.
“I like that kind of rule, you play all season and finish on top, so it’s the fairest way to decide it really. It’s always the main reason I say to our boys that we want to come top two – it takes weather out of the equation, you get a second bite of the cherry if you were to be washed-out,” he said.
“I honestly think we’ll play, but that’s the good thing with finishing first. But you want to play, we’ve won a comp by wash-out and though it was great, it was a little bit empty.”
The one-day record between the sides this season was one victory apiece, while in the only two-dayer, Redbacks posted a first innings win.
Though Willis’ side also has a superior record when it comes to finals cricket, he knows it must return a good performance this weekend to topple Rugby.
The Bulldogs are expected to be at full strength for the match, their line-up including the likes of Western representative Ryan Peacock and Imran Qureshi, who made an unbeaten century last Saturday.
“I think it is definitely a 50-50 game. They’ve got the best batsman in the comp in their team and they are just a really good side,” Willis said.
“We’re not expecting anything but a hard match and hopefully we turn up and play some good cricket and win straight through. That would be really nice.
“A draw would be enough get us through … but you’re crazy to be sitting here thinking strategies now, you just go out and play to win. I think that’s the way to do it.”
The match has been scheduled for the Sportsground, but there is a chance it could be moved to Brooke Moore Oval.