Mark Lehmann will spearhead the bowling for the Ipswich Pioneers in their Webb Shield match against Toowoomba at Laidley tomorrow.
Mark Lehmann will spearhead the bowling for the Ipswich Pioneers in their Webb Shield match against Toowoomba at Laidley tomorrow. David Nielsen

Webb Shield final spot on the line

WEATHER hasn’t been kind to either Ipswich or Toowoomba this summer but it could be about to do the former a big favour in the Webb Shield.

While Toowoomba and Gold Coast have been the strongest teams in the competition this season, multiple washouts have kept both Ipswich and Tweed Heads in the hunt for the final.

Tweed would need to upset Gold Coast tomorrow and pinch a bonus point to reach the final but Ipswich only needs to beat Toowoomba at Laidley’s Bichel Oval to qualify, with hosting rights still up for grabs.

Toowoomba has the advantage of having been back in competition for three weeks while the Ipswich competition resumes today following the floods.

“It is a little bit concerning,” Ipswich captain David Richardson said.

“It is going to be difficult to gauge (our form). The good thing is it is at Laidley, which is a good wicket, batting wise.”

While Ipswich may be behind Toowoomba in terms of match practice, the Pioneers have a surprise or two to spring.

Making his debut is Laidley’s English import Alex Welsh, while Jason Richardson will play against the team he represented earlier this summer and former Brisbane first grade Ben O’Connell has also returned to his old stomping ground.

“I think it’s the best side we’ve put out by far,” David Richardson said.

“We’ve only played two games but we’ve had issues with our batting. It has been strengthened with Jason, Alex and Ben.

“Alex looks the most competent batsman in town as far as strokeplay goes.”

The captain does not think they will have any problem fitting in.

“If you’ve got confident batsmen, they can work with whoever is at the other end,” he said.

Jason Richardson will open with Josh Buffett, followed by Welsh at three, pushing Jason Cubit, who made a successful fist as makeshift opener last summer, down the middle order.

It means Ipswich is likely to try and build an innings, rather than attempt to blast off to a flyer.

“Toowoomba have shown you’ve just got to score 200-plus and it puts them under a load of pressure,” David Richardson said.

“They open the bowling with Mick Miller, who’s a (former Sheffield) Shield cricketer, so if we get through a fair parcel of his overs, we have the opportunity to take runs off the other bowlers.”

If the Ipswich batters can pass the magical 200 mark, Richardson is confident he has the bowlers to finish the job.

Mark Lehmann, Rob Hillier and Craig Cumming all had the benefit of a hit-out last weekend and, along with Steven Heise’s pace plus the skipper and Welsh’s left-arm tweakers, have most bases covered.

“I can’t see a weak link,” David Richardson said.

“There are any one of eight players I can throw the ball to bowl and be confident they can do a good job. Everyone is keen and eager to go.”



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