Finals Play-offs Round 2 Preview

Rod Lyall & Bertus de Jong 03/09/2022

One reasonable conclusion from Saturday’s games is that the round-robin phases saw the four best teams into the finals, and the result was two matches which see-sawed all day and produced two outstanding semi-finals. Let’s hope that Sunday’s preliminary final and next week’s grand final are able to live up to the standard set today.

RL: One obvious difference between Saturday and Sunday is that while both semi-finals were played on turf pitches, the game between HCC and HBS Craeyenhout will take place on the former’s artificial track surrounded by a bijou outfield. On the basis that lightning doesn’t strike in the same place four times it seems unlikely that the visitors’ Tayo Walbrugh will go for a fourth successive duck, but apart from him, Gavin Kaplan and Wesley Barresi, the Crows do not appear to have the depth of batting to take on a HCC attack which had Voorburg in early trouble and held on pretty well at the back end. But by the same token, once Tonny Staal and Zac Worden had gone HCC’s batting failed against the Voorburg bowling, although one might reasonably doubt whether the Crows’ bowling can sustain the same levels of pressure as the championship favourites. Home advantage suggests a HCC win, but it would only take a couple of heroic performances from HBS to turn that calculation on its head.

BdJ: Though HBS came out of today’s quarter final (which is what I shall continue to call this fixture despite it’s baffling official designation as a semi-final) with a win, while HCC fell short against VCC, the same middle order fragility which coast HCC was evident in the Crows batting too, as it has been for much of the season. While both sides have the firepower at the top to put up big scores, HCC have the advantage of an abundance of left arm spin to call on through the middle overs. If the HCC seamers can take early wickets as they did today, the Crows will likely struggle to recover. Should the HBS top order come off, however, HCC have shown themselves vulnerable to collapse under even moderate scoreboard pressure. Though HCC’s line-up looks less top-heavy than that of HBS on paper, a string of single-digit scores on today’s card speaks to a potential vulnerability, and simple momentum should not be entirely discounted either. HCC’s bowling alone still makes them clear favourites ahead of the game, but HBS have every chance of bagging an upset here if they bat with discipline and show the same tenacity in the field that got them the win today. Bit of a punt it may be, but for the sake of keeping things interesting I’m picking the Crows to come out on top.

RL’s pick: HCC

BdJ’s pick: HBS

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