Hornets eager to complete ‘best year’ in four finals
WITH one Ipswich Hornets title already in the bag and four senior teams still in the finals hunt, this weekend is crucial for the newly-formed Cricket Ipswich structure.
The Hornets Queensland Premier Grade men's side is in sixth place in a tightly contested pack of contenders, able to still qualify for the semi-finals over the next two Saturdays.
Victory over fourth-placed Sandgate at Walker Oval will give the Aaron Moore-coached outfit a shot at chasing another grand final spot - like they did last season.
The Hornets Second Graders have a tougher task but they can still mathematically make the semis with a big win over Sandgate Redcliffe at Deagon.
Both Hornets women's sides are well placed for a finals charge under the astute guidance of Wayne and Leanne Bichel.
The Hornets Lord Taverners side won the under-16 competition before Christmas.
For former Hornets club president Peter Leschke, the scene is set for a historic final round.
"For us, when you look at the year that we are having, we've won Lord Taverners and we've got probably all four (senior) teams still a chance to make the semi-finals,'' he said.
"The men's second graders will have to have a very big win this weekend but it's mathematically possible they could make the semi-finals as well.
"This could be easily our best year with regards to results.''
The Hornets were formed in 2012, with Leschke playing a leading role in setting up the club.
Leschke is now vice-president of Cricket Ipswich, a united body formed through last year's merger between the Hornets and Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association.
He said seeing the Hornets juniors win their first Lord Taverners grand final was a major boost for Ipswich.
Leschke has also been watching the close senior seasons unfold.
"This weekend in first grade, Wests (fifth) play Toombul (third) so we're hoping Toombul knocks off Wests,'' Leschke said.
"We're playing Sandgate (in fourth) so we're hoping to leapfrog Sandgate and Toombul remain in third . . . and we can sneak into fourth.
"That's how we'll make the semi-final.''
The Hornets women have been progressing well with the first graders in fourth and second graders in second spot.
They also have their final qualifying games on Sunday, against University and Gold Coast respectively.
Long-time cricket official Leschke praised head coach Moore and Bichel for their "outstanding'' ongoing efforts.
"They are both high quality coaches and they seem to have a good network of people that they bring in to get involved in their coaching programs as well,'' Leschke said.
"The players have really benefited from having both involved.''
Having spinning all-rounder Jack Wood earn a Queensland Bulls contract and play for the Brisbane Heat in the BBL provided huge motivation.
Ellie Johnston became the club's first Queensland Fire player.
"I think we've had a fantastic year in that regard,'' he said, delighted to see the Hornets women progressing so strongly.
"If the second grade (men) don't make it and the first grade do, we're going to make four of the five finals that we've played in.''
In his new role at Cricket Ipswich, Leschke is working closely with president Mike Stoodley.
"It's been good. The board is up and running,'' he said.
"We're meeting regularly.
"We're trying to get across all the aspects on how we grow the game in Ipswich and how we can continue to get volunteers involved in cricket locally - to try and promote the game and grow the game.
"We've probably assessed a lot this first season on where the areas are we need to focus on.
"I would think next season, we would probably hit the ground running because we would have had that board in place for 12 months.''
Leschke said future goals included continuing to open up the pathway between local cricket and the Hornets.
He said Cricket Ipswich also planned to form a local community cricket competition for under-13 and under-18 girls next season.
These competitions would run below the current first (Katherine Raymont Shield) and second grade (Jodi Fields Shield) Queensland Premier competitions.
"Ideally, we would have at least four sides in each competition,'' he said.
"Start to get some sort of framework for ladies cricket, to start to develop and for the girls to come through.''
Another challenge is strengthening player numbers in the Ipswich competition, where some teams have struggled this season.
"We need to keep chipping away at that and get our coach education,'' he said.
"And it's about supporting the clubs to be able to fund themselves and admin themselves well and be able to afford coaches.''
Leschke said the focus was on enhancing the enjoyment of playing community cricket.
The Ipswich competition continues this weekend with all eyes on the Northsiders v Laidley game at Keith Sternberg Oval. This could be a grand final preview.
Centrals have to beat Brothers by a big margin at Amberley to have any chance of making the title decider.
Qld Premier Grades
Men's cricket (final round Saturday)
6 - Ipswich v 4 Sandgate Redcliffe at Walker Oval
3 - Toombul v 5 - Wests at Nundah
1st Grade points: 1. Uni 144.5, 2. Norths 127.5, 3. Toombul 117.75, 4. Sandgate Redcliffe 112.5, 5. Wests 109, 6. Ipswich Hornets 108.25.
2nd Grade: at Deagon
Women's Cricket (final round Sunday)
Ipswich v University at Walker Oval
Wests v Sunshine Coast at Graceville
Gold Coast v Sandgate Redcliffe at Robina
1st Grade points: Gold Coast 50, Wests 41, Sunshine Coast 37, Ipswich 36, Sandgate Redcliffe 30.
2nd Grade: Ipswich v Gold Coast at Robina
2nd Grade points: Uni 56, Ipswich 52, Sunshine Coast 45, Wests 45.
1st Division (Saturday)
Northsiders 1/64 chasing Laidley District 169 at Sternberg Oval (Jordan Alegre 18*)
Centrals 1/7 chasing Brothers 174 at Marsden No.2.
South East Redbacks v Marburg Mt Crosby Thunder at Raleigh Oval
Laidley 2/49 chasing Northsiders 187 at Bichel Oval (Lawrence Pratt 34*)
Thunder 2/98 chasing Redbacks 144 at Marsden No.4 (Zane Hogan 48*)
Brothers 6/67 chasing Centrals 117 at Limestone Park (Darren Meier 14*)
Bundamba Strollers White v Laidley at Strollers
Thunder v Strollers Blue at Mt Crosby Showgrounds
Northsiders v Redbacks at Marsden No.3
Points: 1. Laidley 103, 2. Strollers White 96, Strollers Blue 62, Thunder 61, Redbacks 40, Northsiders 12.