RISING HOPES: Centrals first division players Sam Strong, Caleb Risson, Cameron Howard and Matt Guest.
RISING HOPES: Centrals first division players Sam Strong, Caleb Risson, Cameron Howard and Matt Guest. INGA WILLIAMS

Centrals a major threat if can find consistency

CENTRAL Districts shape as one of the few cricket clubs that can threaten the Brothers-Laidley duopoly this season.

Centrals went into the opening round of fixtures, a loss to Swifts, with just an internal trial under their belts.

But it is a similar scenario at most clubs and Centrals skipper Ben O'Connell was unconcerned.

"A lot of guys have been training for two months," he said. "We've had good numbers turning up and done a lot of fielding and nets."

Centrals have had no major player losses but have bolstered their ranks with the addition of batsman Caleb Risson from Toombul and fast bowler Michael Abbott from Wests.

Centrals have proven themselves a force in the 20 over game, making the past two T20 finals and winning the title last summer.

O'Connell believes the confidence gained from that will translate into one and two-day form this summer.

The challenge is maintaining that T20 intensity all day, starting with day one of the opening two day fixture, against Eastern Taipans at Mark Marsh Oval.

"I think with last year the T20 showed we will be there towards the end, at finals time," O'Connell said. "It's just our consistency.

"If we've got the same core guys week-in, week-out we should do well. That's what let us down last summer - time management.

"Letting us know as early as possible if you're not available."

But O'Connell knows his team need to do better at the basics too.

"Our batting needs to improve," O'Connell said. "We've got a very good bowling attack, with Matty Guest having a good first year last year and Reece (O'Sullivan) leading with the new ball.''

That could be taken as a message for the rest of the batsmen to take some of the workload off the skipper.

"We seemed to lose clumps of wickets at the wrong time, which put our middle order under pressure," O'Connell said.

"The top three need to make 100s but if the middle order can make 30s, 40s or 50s we'll be competitive. Nick Vellacott got a hundred last season so he showed his ability.

"A lot of it is mental application.

"Sometimes it is poor shot selection. Or not knowing what they should do in the game situation at that time."

It can make the difference between fighting for finals and lamenting what might have been.

"We learnt last year when we lost a couple of tight games when we were in a winning position," the skipper said.


Talented youngsters prove fine investment

CENTRALS coach Scott Barrett took some pride looking at his group of players in the pre-season. Most of them have come through the Centrals production line.

In recent seasons, Centrals have blooded a host of talented youngsters, meaning some inevitable short-term pain. But it was always a longer term investment, which could be about to pay off.

"We've kept kids from when they were 17 or 18 and are now 20," Barrett said. "Like Ben White, Sam Strong and Matt Guest.

"Luke Barrett is 21 and has been in first grade for four years. Most of the rest are 25-30 so it's a good mixture.

"We were a really young club four years ago.

"There's good leadership and experience here now."

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