South East Redback Poorna Chauka hits Michael Hillier for six during the Baxter Big Bash. Photo: Rob Williams
South East Redback Poorna Chauka hits Michael Hillier for six during the Baxter Big Bash. Photo: Rob Williams

Rising paceman runs hot

CRICKET: Centrals super-sub Brendan Ashton played a match-changing hand as the premiers held off Northsiders to maintain their undefeated Baxter Big Bash record in challenging conditions at Marsden.

The players love the shortened rapid-fire format and they could only consider themselves lucky to be contesting it on Saturday given the extreme heat, dust and wind which all conspired to make cricket extremely uncomfortable.

Centrals best handled the blustery furnace.

Answering a late call-up, regular second-grader Ashton, 20, formed a destructive first change partnership with ageless off spinner Wayne Jones. Together the duo delivered a sensational spell which ultimately proved the difference.

With a competitive total of 4/169 on the board thanks to Luke Barrett’s thumping 78 (59) and Tom Weber’s 49 (37), Centrals moved into the field full of confidence. However, an aggressive counter-attacking opening partnership by Northsiders’ Troy Cooper 29 (29) and Stephen Humphreys 36 (24) had them on the back foot.

Enter Ashton and Jones.

Stemming the flow and turning the tide, the pair collected 6/30 from 38 balls to help restrict a gallant Tigers to 8/142. Left-arm paceman Ashton jagged 3/13 from three overs, including two wickets in his first to change the game.

The South-east Queensland under-21 representative who aspires to crack first grade permanently said it was encouraging to make such a decisive impact in the top flight.

“I was feeling confident that I was ready for it,” he said.

“It was a big call-up and I was a bit nervous before the game started. I wanted to bowl well and I backed myself. I’ve always wanted to play first grade. It has always been a goal and I’ll keep working hard.”

Ashton said cunning spinner Jones varied his pace and flight with great deception and he relished the chance to bowl in tandem with the veteran after Barrett and Weber had set up the victory with the bat.

“We formed a good partnership, stopped the boundaries and applied pressure,” he said.

“We batted really well and got off to a great start. That was definitely a defendable total.”

Centrals skipper Matt Guest said Norths had a stacked line-up and it was a satisfying result made possible by the Jones’ master class and the contribution of ever-reliable replacement Ashton.

“Wayne did what he does best – got up above the eyeline and took wickets,” he said.

“Brendon has always been in the first grade squad. He has been doing his job in second grade and is always the first to get picked. He comes in and does his job. He is a good young fella.”

Centrals were also meant to face Brothers on Saturday but the blue and white forfeited.

In the round’s other matches, Northsiders crushed a disappointing South East Redbacks.

Chasing a meagre total of 68, the Tigers reached 2/75 from 5.3 overs.

An experienced Laidley also put the Redbacks to the sword in their clash.

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