Wodonga over bad patch at right time

WODONGA skipper Robbie Jackson believes the Bulldogs can’t afford to become “over Mark Butters-conscious” in today’s Cricket Albury-Wodonga Provincial grand final against St Patrick’s at Les Cheesley Oval.

While Jackson described Butters’ feats in grabbing 50 wickets at 11.9 as sensational this season, he said the perennial heavyweight was far from a one-man band.

Butters destroyed East Albury in his opening spell last weekend and Jackson said his top-order would have to be prepared for another early onslaught.

“Like every side in the competition knows when you play St Pat’s, you will have to get through 20 to 25 overs from Butters,” he said.

“It’s a matter of knuckling down, trying to keep him out and hopefully staying ahead of the game.

“He’s been sensational all season.

“But saying that you can’t become over Mark Butters-conscious as someone else will step up and hurt you.

“They have a lot of depth and I think the sides are fairly evenly matched right down the order.”

Wodonga has regained the mantle as favourites on the back of impressive finals wins over Tallangatta and Lavington in the past fortnight but Jackson said it was important for the Bulldogs to bring their same style of game to the table.

He put the re-emergence down to hard work and some old-fashioned soul-searching.

“We went through a rough patch a while back but we ironed it out and the boys are now playing really good cricket again,” Jackson said.

“Our two wins have been really good.

“But grand finals are a completely different ball game and we will have to start again against a finals hardened side.

“We have to play consistent cricket through Saturday and Sunday as it could easily come down to the final half an hour on Sunday evening.”

St Patrick’s haven’t been quite as impressive during March with Heath Naughton’s team going down to Lavington in the semi-finals and winning a thriller against East Albury last weekend.

Batting collapses have been the problem on both occasions and the acid will be firmly on Patties’ Luke Restall and Jason van der Merwe to spend a long time at the crease.

They have made scores of 12 and 49 and 31 and 10 respectively during the finals after both cracked the 500-run barrier during the home and away series.

Naughton said batting out the overs would be crucial.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said.

“Batting out the overs is always important and this weekend is no different.

“We are in pretty good shape and it’s a matter of putting it together on the day.

“Wodonga probably feel the same way.”

Wodonga will have the bonus of being in the box seat if rain intervenes after the Patties lost their first final.

But Jackson said he doubted whether the weather would be a factor with a bright forecast for the weekend.

The centre square has been well covered in the lead-up to the match.

“I expect us to play with the ground maintenance that has been going up,” he said.

“All of us want to play.

“Nobody likes to see rain come into it.”

Play starts at 1pm.