RUN MACHINE: Laidley batsman Mick Sippel sets the benchmark for regional run-scoring consistency.
RUN MACHINE: Laidley batsman Mick Sippel sets the benchmark for regional run-scoring consistency. David Nielsen

Bowling stalwart hits mark

WHILE the Brothers bowlers appeared helpless in the face of Mick Sippel's onslaught last weekend, one bowler who might have been able to do something was sitting out injured.

Former Queensland Country fast bowler Mark Sharrad tore a calf muscle in the Ipswich Pioneers' loss to Toowoomba on November 11. He is out until the new year.

"I did it in my third over, but kept bowling for another five overs," the renowned hard-nut said.

This summer has marked a return to both Brothers and the Ipswich Pioneers for Sharrad who was a mainstay of the Ipswich team that dominated the Webb Shield competition for a decade.

But those days are seemingly long gone as heavy losses to Gold Coast and Toowoomba in the past two matches indicate.

While a downturn following such success was always to be expected, Sharrad believes the problem is in large part due to the absence of batsmen with the ability to build a big innings.

"When you played Redbank (Plains) with Brian May, you said before the game there's 100 runs already," he said, in reference to the former Queensland Country champion.

Add to that the likes of Andrew Walsh, Daryl Davis and Craig Jesberg and bowling teams dreaded the prospect of a Saturday afternoon at Bruce Raleigh Oval.

Redbank Plains were a formidable prospect but they didn't have a monopoly on big run-getters.

Northsiders had their own long-stay specialists in Grant Stallard and Kent Hislop.

Laidley had Sippel and Peter Wood.

Brothers had Jason Richardson and Centrals had Davis and Richardson briefly.

Only Sippel remains and while he is still punishing attacks over the long haul, there are few coming through who can boast the same sort of ruthless intent at the crease.

Sharrad thinks it is about attitude and application and the predominance of short-form cricket, and particularly the popularity of Twenty20, could be to blame.

"They come in with all the shots in the world and are out for 10," he said.

The averages of the current crop of Ipswich batsmen support Sharrad's theory.

Apart from Sippel (batting average of 52.5 before last weekend's 151 not out), only Tyrone De Silva (34), Craig Cumming (32), Ben O'Connell (34.6) and Sony Manghera (32.9) average above 30.

Until the region produces more batsmen with the temperament to bat half a day, Sharrad believes Ipswich will remain behind the dominant forces in the Webb Shield now - Toowoomba and Gold Coast.

All is not lost, however.

Sharrad has been encouraged by the development of some of Ipswich's cricketers in the two years he spent away with Souths in Brisbane.

Cumming is the prime example, having represented South Queensland Country last weekend.

"He wouldn't have had a look in back then," Sharrad said.

"Now he's one of the best players around and someone the younger guys look up to."

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