Centrals carry confidence into battle favouring home warriors
THE task before Central Districts today and next Saturday appears akin to a band of gypsies attacking a fortified castle.
Such is the impregnable nature of Laidley's reigning champion Division One side.
But an outright win over Eastern Taipans, which marked the emergence of some potential new stars, means Centrals will at least charge the Bichel Oval fortress full of confidence.
If they think there are any chinks of complacency in the Blue Dogs armour they could be in for a shock however.
Laidley's triumph in last season's competition has not dulled the appetite for success at the club, according to all-rounder Alex Welsh.
"Everyone is still pretty hungry to do it again," Welsh said.
"Nothing has really changed.
"We're in good shape."
It is an understatement, with the Blue Dogs welcoming veteran batsmen Brendan O'Keefe and Gerard Sippel back for the game.
They have also been boosted by the presence of representative fast bowler Michael Topp.
Topp intended to not play this summer due to his university workload.
But either captain Chris Wilson was immensely persuasive or Topp's arm was easily twisted as he took two wickets in the win over Thunder last weekend.
"In his second spell last week he found some rhythm," Welsh said.
If the bowling looks strong Laidley's batting is equally formidable.
"We bat to 11 this year," Welsh said. "A couple of players from last season have dropped out but the young lads who have come in can bat. It's a massive strength.
"But we don't want to fall into the trap of thinking someone else will get the runs."
It all adds up to a massive challenge for Centrals.
But the batting of Michael Dargusch (80) and Caleb Risson (69) and the bowling of Michael Abbot (4-8), Blake Raper (3-9 and 1-23) and Luke Barrett (4-17) gives them hope.
However it is Centrals captain Ben O'Connell Welsh views as the greatest threat.
"We need to get him early. He's got the ability to score 100s and he does tend to do well against us," Welsh said. - Jay Buchan
IWMCA Division One, Round three: day one of two day game today
- Laidley v Central Districts at Bichel Oval
- Eastern Taipans v Brothers at Bruce Raleigh Oval
- Thunder v Swifts at Tivoli 1