WARRNAMBOOL and District Cricket Association (WDCA) is determined to learn from previous failings and climb back into the top grade of Melbourne Country Week.
Captain Brett Eldridge said more experience, including the pain of a bizarre loss last year, and an off-field initiative would help his side’s quest to win the division two title next week.
He and captain of the past two years Ben Boyd took a plan to the WDCA executive three years ago after it was relegated from the top grade to reinvigorate representative performances.
After a grand final loss in a rain-affected match in 2010, the WDCA came up short last year, missing the final after suffering a shock loss to eventual winner, neighbour South West Cricket.
The WDCA failed to bat out its 50 overs in that match and under the competition’s rules, the unused overs were added to SWC’s run-chase.
Eldridge said lessons had been learnt from last year.
“That South West game came down to experience,” he said. “Young guys came into bat unaware if we got bowled out inside 50 overs they (SWC) got them,” he said.
“The fact SWC passed us in the 52nd over says to me we lost that game.
“Now guys understand you have to apply yourself for the full 50 overs. It might have been short-term pain for long-term gain.”
Eldridge said the core younger group of players were better prepared for a title win.
He said the association’s decision to bring in former premier grade cricketer Mick Rantall as coach was a big plus.
Rantall, now a triathlete and marathon runner, has driven a fitness program for the squad but Eldridge said his experience from playing in Melbourne and having had success in the game for years would be decisive.
“Something we have lacked in previous years was having an experienced set of eyes on the game from off the field,” Eldridge said. “In the SWC game we lacked that.
“The game of cricket can pass you by pretty quickly when you are involved in it. You need an independent person to sit down with the younger players. It is very difficult to be personally involved and step away from playing and do that.
“His role will be to teach the kids and highlight the key points in the match and we have never had that.”
Eldridge said the addition of Nathan Murphy would be significant.
He said his side had usually struggled with heavy legs on the third and fourth days of the competition, but Murphy’s inclusion would ensure fresh legs.
A strong build-up which started in November would stand his squad in good stead, he said.
The WDCA won the Western Waves’ Twenty20 Festival of Cricket, the annual Cross-Border Cup against Mount Gambier and comfortably defeated Hamilton, one of its opponents next week, in a full-scale practice match last Sunday.