TIGHT TUSSLE: Centrals bowler Rhys O'Sullivan delivers an accurate line to the Brothers batsman during an earlier first division clash this season.
TIGHT TUSSLE: Centrals bowler Rhys O'Sullivan delivers an accurate line to the Brothers batsman during an earlier first division clash this season. Cordell Richardson

Ipswich's final showdown rich in know-how

HAVING captained Brothers to past grand final glory, Brian Andrews knows what it takes to secure the most important win of the season.

The current first division coach has every faith defending premiers Brothers can add another title to their collection after a terrific all-round performance beating Laidley in last weekend's semi-final.

"There's a lot of experience in the side,'' he said, confident Brothers were peaking at the right time for this weekend's showdown with Centrals.

"In the bigger games, they (the seasoned players) stand up a bit and they're pretty keen to have another win.''

Pre-final talk has centred on the possible retirement of loyal Brothers captain David Richardson, wicketkeeper Luke Dixon, bowling stalwart Mark Sharrad and proud teamman Craig Mackay.

Richardson has played 240 matches, ahead of Dixon (185), Sharrad (175) and Mackay (165).

However, Andrews prefers to let the grand final take its course before pondering what might happen with the club's four warriors.

"We'll get through this and have some time off and we'll see,'' Andrews said, having returned to the club as coach this season following a three-year stint with the Taipans and one year when they changed to Redbacks.

"I think Richo (Richardson) is going definitely but the other guys hopefully they'll be still around next year.''

 

Former Brothers first division premiership-winning cricketer Brian Andrews is coaching this season's grand final side.
Former Brothers first division premiership-winning cricketer Brian Andrews is coaching this season's grand final side. QT file

With young guns like Matthew Andrews and Michael Conway coming through, the coach would be happy to have seasoned leaders guiding them a bit longer.

"It would be nice to still have a fair bit of experience in there,'' he said.

Andrews was a Brothers first division stalwart for a decade from 1985. He retired in the 1999 season.

Andrews, also a club past president, shared in four grand finals, enjoying victories over Waysiders and Marburg.

Back with Brothers as a mentor, Andrews said his main role was providing support to the club's established leaders.

"They have been there before and just (need to) do what they're doing,'' Andrews said.

"They've played enough cricket now.

"It's just giving them some encouragement and confidence and really support them. It's all just a mental sort of thing.''

Brothers dismissed Laidley for 117 after setting them an impossible 331 for victory.

"Everything is looking great at the moment. They are training well and playing well,'' Andrews said.

"The last couple of games we've hit our straps a bit so we're quietly confident.''

Coach Brian Andrews was particularly impressed with Brothers bowler Chris Smith, who snared another seven-wicket haul last Sunday. Smith was last season's grand final hero with seven Laidley scalps in each innings.

"He has played a lot of cricket and last week he bowled really well,''Andrews said.

Andrews said all of Brothers' semi-final winning side were available for the next four days of cricket, if required.

Andrews has immense respect for this weekend's opponents Centrals, coached by master tactician Scott Barrett.

"I think they are the most consistent. They're a solid allround team and they are coached really well,'' Andrews said of the minor premiers.

"They are definitely a good side. They deserve to be in it (the grand final).''

With Brothers needing an outright win and the possibility of weather interruptions this weekend, Andrews said his side had to make the most of the best conditions.

"If we get some breaks in play, when we do play we've just got to make sure we take advantage,'' he said.

Centrals captain Wayne Jones said all his regular first grade players were available for the four-day battle at Baxter Oval.

With a weekend off while Brothers faced Laidley in the semi-final, the Centrals team had training on Saturday morning before watching the club's third grade side play. Some players also kept a keen eye on the first division semi-final.

"We have put in place a lot of routines and structures and have been disciplined and hard work,'' Jones said when asked why his team had been so consistent this season.

"After our grand final victory in 2016/17 we lost a lot of our great players due to retirements and moving on. Jason O'Sullivan, Ben O'Connell, Nick Vellacott, Steve Ihle and Garry Kissick were hard to replace. They had a lot of experience and held important roles for us in the past.

"Coach Scott Barrett has been able to mould a team together . . . and his methods have got us back up the top when we both thought it might take some time, maybe 3-4 years.''

Jones praised Rhys O'Sullivan, Luke Barrett and Matty Guest for stepping up to become leaders.

Dave Tyler, Mick Abbott, Geoff Klease and Tim Weber have all played a lot of cricket but not much in first grade so Centrals harnessed their "considerable talents''.

Jones said Centrals had also developed players like Sam Joseph, Cam Osborne, Charlie Utz and Brendan Ashton from promising second graders into cricketers capable of playing in first division.

"We always had good clubmen like Alex Dell and Alex O'Sullivan who have always been available or put their hand up to do anything at any time. That is probably another thing that has separated us from the other clubs except probably Laidley,'' the dependable Centrals opening bats-man said. "So it's a mixture of talent and hard work at training with good structures that have got to this final.''

Jones expected to face an emotional Brothers side with rival captain Richardson retiring.

"They always play well in finals as a club,'' Jones said.

"They have a lot of experience across the park. That's where they win a lot of two-day cricket . . . they can outlast you in a scrap.

"It's great to see Jake Sarra come through and perform like he has done in the past after his recent struggles.

"Craig Mackay is another guy who can hurt you if you aren't switched on. He has that canny knack of getting wickets and scoring vital runs. He virtually took the last two semi-finals away from opposition with late order runs.

"Overall, they (Brothers) are a great team and to put Laidley away so comprehensively last weekend shows you they are up for the fight.''

Game day

IWMCA 1st division grand final: Four-day game between Centrals and Brothers starts at 10am Saturday at Baxter Oval, Amberley.

Ninety overs to be bowled each day.



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