Youthful blood central to rise
IT'S only early days but few people would have predicted Northsiders and Central Districts to be leading the competition after four rounds.
Yet the rise of Centrals in this summer's Ipswich Division One competition is no surprise to those within the club.
Several seasons of blooding youngsters is starting to pay dividends, with 19-year-old fast bowler Rhys O'Sullivan typical of the club's philosophy.
O'Sullivan, now in his third season in the top grade, has taken 10 wickets at an average of 15.4.
"Obviously you improve every year as you get older and wiser," he said.
O'Sullivan was talking about himself but just as easily could have been describing his team.
"You start getting to know batsmen around Ipswich," he said.
"You've got to be able to back yourself and bowl in the right spots."
At about 187cm and with the ability to bowl fast with a bit of movement off the seam or through the air, O'Sullivan has learnt to back himself in most situations.
"You only need the ball to move half a bat's width and you've got a wicket," he said.
O'Sullivan puts his team's cracking start partly down to an intense pre-season program.
"We've had a long warm-up and it's really come together for us," he said.
"We're close to one of the top sides I've played with, due to the amount of depth at the club."
That depth has come from throwing youngsters like O'Sullivan in at the deep end and letting them swim.
"We've had a few years to get used to the top class of Ipswich cricket," he said.
"I was a bit nervous as a young fella coming in against men who've been around for yonks."
He soon realised he could handle most of what was thrown at him, the worst of it being "just the odd bouncer from Mick Sippel".
Central Districts have copped flak in recent seasons for their conservative approach during matches, in which they don't go for all-out attack like Laidley or Northsiders.
But they offer no apologies and this season's results show why.
"We always form a plan for each game," O'Sullivan said. "We set a total we want to be at each stage.
"If it is getting us points on the board, why change it."
The differing approaches of the top two teams are part of what makes today's clash at Jensen Oval so interesting.
"We've just got to bowl good areas and take the catches when they come," O'Sullivan said of the key to beating Northsiders.
"We've got to take every opportunity."
Meanwhile, Eastern Taipans travel to Bichel Oval today to meet Laidley in the grand final replay, with third place on the line.