EAST Albury cricket coach James McNeil talks to The Border Mail’s BRETT KOHLHAGEN ahead of today’s penultimate round of provincial matches.
BRETT KOHLHAGEN: East Albury is sitting on top with two rounds to play. How are you placed for a shot at the club’s first premiership since 2007-08?
JAMES McNEIL: We’re happy heading into the pointy end of the season, but there is a lot of work to do.
BK: Where can you improve?
JM: Some big individual performances. We have gelled well as a team and done everything as a team without any standout performances with the exception of Cameron White. Hopefully someone can step up.
BK: Hayden Coulson has been another real plus for the club?
JM: Hayden has been great. He’s a club stalwart and everyone loves him. He’s tough and loves the challenge of opening the batting. I have known him since we were kids. This is the hardest he has worked and it’s paying off.
BK: Cameron White and big Gurjit Sandhu have formed a strong new-ball attack. How big a role will they play in the finals?
JM: Cameron’s form hasn’t surprised anyone here as he’s a really good bowler and Gurjit is doing a good job. Chris Bridle, Ben Jones and Paul Conolly have all contributed.
BK: People say Sandhu has another gear or two up his sleeve?
JM: Gurjit has a couple more gears. We’re happy with how he’s going at the moment.
BK: Rival sides rate East Albury as a fielding side. You’ve worked hard on it?
JM: Definitely. The boys are probably sick of running around at training, but we are a very young side and, at times, we have nine blokes under 23 years old. Our side is full of athletes — hockey and footy players. It’s one of the best fielding sides I have played with.
BK: How has the comp changed since you last played here?
JM: The same blokes still dominate — like Steve Wood and Andrew Lade — so it hasn’t changed much. You still also have Restall, Jackson and Kano (Kane Arendarcikas). It’s a credit to the comp that they are still involved. The list goes on.
BK: What opposition players caught your eye?
JM: There are a fair few whose back you would like to see come finals time. A few sides rely heavily on their stars and it’s tough for them to win if they don’t fire.
BK: I know you don’t like talking about yourself, but your form has gone to another level since the Christmas break. What do you put that down to?
JM: I battled before Christmas. I still go through the same processes. I was lucky I went away with Cricket Victoria and batted six times in seven days. That was pretty helpful.
BK: How special was making a ton for Victorian Country last month?
JM: I was at the crease for 400 minutes and it didn’t come easy.
BK: What can you tell me about the East Albury Cricket Club’s pink day to raise funds for the McGrath Foundation today?
JM: The club has been involved for a while now. We love the day. Families and friends get involved. The day’s organisers deserve the credit — Dave Christy and Nicole Rennie do a great job. We have all been affected by diseases like this.