WINNING TARGET: Brothers bowl-er Craig Mackay delivers during his team’s upset win over Northsiders.
WINNING TARGET: Brothers bowl-er Craig Mackay delivers during his team’s upset win over Northsiders. David Nielsen

Contenders in early title test

IT has been a long time since Brothers and Central Districts were leading the top grade cricket competition.

While it's too early to start talking about grand final previews, given only three rounds of the Ipswich Logan Premier League have been played, the two teams have stamped themselves as finals contenders already.

The two teams meet on day one of the Ipswich and Logan Premier League's round four at Mark Marsh Oval today.

Brothers' last semi-final appearance was 2006-07 and their last final the summer before that.

Last season, finishing just ahead of the wooden spooners Swifts was the low-point in 37-year-old veteran Craig Mackay's time at the club.

"It wasn't the best year," Mackay admitted.

"This year it's good. There's a very good feel to the club.

"I suppose that comes with winning."

The question then must be asked: "Where does the winning come from?"

The return of fast bowler Mark Sharrad, wicket-keeper batsman Jacob Sarra and the arrival of former Eastern Taipans all-rounder Craig Cumming helps.

"Craig is the big plus," Mackay said. "He's a very quiet person.

"He just has an aura about him.

"He has a confidence in the field and when he speaks, younger players listen to him.

"Shardy is just Shardy.

"Jake (Sarra) is really committed this year."

Mackay also believes former Queensland Country spinner David Richardson has been rejuvenated since passing on the captaincy role to Josh Buffett.

But Mackay senses there is more to the Brothers' revival than just individual contributions.

"It's mainly to do with training," he said.

"There's more structure and we've got more players turning up and committing."

Both Centrals (Rhys O'Sullivan, Luke Barrett and Ben O'Connell) and Brothers (Cumming and Sharrad) will be without some of their stars this weekend.

The six are part of South East Queensland's Schaeffer Shield squad to play in Toowoomba.

Despite that, Mackay is wary of what Centrals can produce.

"Jason O'Sullivan is coming off a hundred," Mackay said.

"It will be an interesting day.

"It will be interesting to see who wins the toss and what they do."

While bowling first on winning the coin toss seems unlikely, it is Mackay's preference.

The reason being his remarkable recent bowling form.

Mackay took five wickets against Taipans last weekend to follow his opening round 6-16 against Swifts.

"With our batting, the key is not to lose two or three wickets at the same time," he said.

"We've got to build partnerships.

"Our bowling and fielding is going well.

"There's not much there we need to change."

In other round four matches, Alberton hosts Laidley at Eagleby while Eastern Taipans welcome Swifts to Strollers.



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