Hillier hopes to end year on a high
RECALLED Northsiders paceman Robert Hillier hopes to finish his rollercoaster year on a high today by helping the Tigers maintain their undefeated one-day cricket record. Northsiders ? who haven't lost a limited overs clash since the one-dayers were introduced into the Ipswich competition two seasons ago ? host defending IWMCA first division premiers Laidley at Keith Sternberg Oval. Hillier, 20, was an integral member of the Tigers side before breaking his jaw shortly before leaving for England to play league cricket for Cheltenham. The injury left him short of a gallop when he arrived in the United Kingdom and he found himself playing seconds. Just when it appeared he was back on track, Hillier injured his shoulder fielding, which left him unable to bowl and again stuck in lower grades as a specialist batsman for the final two months of his stay. In and out of the Tigers top side since his return to Ipswich, the Minden product is hoping for a bagful of wickets today now that he's back bowling with some venom. "It's been a slow process but I'm getting there," Hillier said. "I was a little bit shattered over there in England because I couldn't bowl for half the season but they understood that injuries happen." Despite his difficult stint in England, Hillier said he enjoyed the experience and hasn't ruled out another overseas sojourn in a few years time. Tigers veteran Grant Stallard tipped Hillier to play a vital role today. "He bowls well to left-handers and that could be a key against Laidley,'' Stallard said. Despite their recent run of wins, the fifth-placed Tigers can ill-afford to lose to the Blue Dogs as the battle for a top-three spot intensifies. Laidley should be bolstered by the likely return of champion spinner Mick Brennan, who missed his side's loss to first-placed Brothers last Saturday. The Brethren host the Marburg Mustangs at Ivor Marsden No.2 today. In this afternoon's other first division matches, the Eastern Raiders take on last-start winners Strollers, while Colleges Crossing meets Centrals in what's expected to be a grudge match of epic proportions.