Blunted strikepower but Brothers still a big show
IF PLAYING an undefeated, top-of-the-table Laidley team at Bichel Oval isn't hard enough, Brothers will do it this weekend without two strike bowlers.
Brothers sit second on the ladder and can pull within striking distance of the Blue Dogs with a win. However, even veteran Dave Richardson admits his team faces the toughest of tasks.
Brothers' paceman Craig Cumming will miss the clash due to representative commitments with South Queensland while fellow speedster Mark Sharrad is out with a calf injury.
"They leave a massive hole in our side that we can't fill but we have to do the best we can," Richardson said.
"If we were going out at full strength, we'd have a little more confidence but in reality we will have a team that is a little bit underdone.
"I've been out there with a much stronger side than we'll take out there this weekend and had our bum smacked and been home by three o'clock."
All is not lost for the Brethren who recorded a great win over Centrals earlier this month, also without the pair.
However, Laidley is a different matter and Richardson has plenty of painful memories of previous trips to Bichel Oval.
"It's a bit of a daunting task," he said. "I can't actually remember the last time we won out there."
Laidley skipper Chris Wilson said despite the fast start to the season, his side will never take a win for granted.
With Brothers sitting comfortably in second place on the Premier League table, a win for the Blue Dogs would nearly secure a top-two finish despite more than half a season remaining.
"Hopefully we can have a win and put a bit of ground between us and Brothers," Wilson said.
"We won't be doing anything different to what we have all year.
"We like to keep wickets in hand for the last 15 overs and that worked pretty well for us this year."
While the visitors will miss the bowling of Cumming and Sharrad, Laidley will also miss the input of wicketkeeper/batsman Travis Ilka.
With Matt Grassick, Ilka will miss the game to attend a weekend wedding.
Gerard Sippel will come into the line-up but Wilson acknowledged a challenge for his side.
"One problem we have is some of our guys haven't had much of a chance with the bat because the top order has been going so well," Wilson said.
"Mick Sippel, Jason Cubit and Ryan Hurley, those three guys have been excellent for us."
The Premier League now heads into a series of one-day fixtures until Christmas before two-day matches return in 2013.