ALLANSFORD coach Jacob Bloom believes co-captain and fast bowler Luke Ryan is ready to step up his impact heading into the second half of the summer.
Ryan has been hampered by a groin injury during the opening half of the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association division one season.
But the Christmas break has allowed the right-arm bowler to rejuvenate his body ahead of the Gators' hunt for a finals berth.
With the side's opening bowler and leading wicket taker Ben Boyd on Vic Country duties in Queensland, Ryan will be handed the new ball in his side's two twenty20 fixtures against West Warrnambool and Wesley-CBC.
"We have got our co-captain fully fit and he was bowling good heat in the nets last night," Bloom said.
"It's good to see him back fit after suffering with the groin injury, which limited what he can do."
Bloom also backed the Gators' young brigade such as the likes of Sam Artz and Ethan Boyd, who enter Saturday's double-header with confidence after winning the Under 17 Country week with Warrnambool Gold.
"We have brought in Miles McCluggage for another game in division one after he played one earlier in the year and we have been happy with his progression," he said.
"Young Sam Artz, who has come on in leaps and bounds in division one, has been playing rep cricket with the (Western) Waves and also Country Week and Ethan Boyd has lifted his paced and accuracy to new standard."
The Gators' two losses before Christmas have all but ruled them out of the twenty20 finals but they are still aiming for two wins that will keep them in contention for finals later in the season.
Bloom labelled the West game as a "12-point game" his side needed to win to stay in touch with the top four.
"West is a crucial game first up tomorrow and if we can knock them off we are challenging for a finals spot," the playing coach said.
"But if we lose one then we are right back with the bottom three or four in that tight middle band of teams."
Bloom highlighted the Gators' fielding and batting as the key areas of improvement they have targeted over the Christmas break.
"We have been focusing on being positive and confident," he said. "We have been doing some good work on the track after Christmas and the guys have been working hard on batting and fielding and for me I want to see reward for that effort with two good wins on Saturday.
"With the twenty20s you can be more aggressive and take more risks and it's about having confidence to execute shots when you need to.
"That's what we have been drilling in and building some of those shots and being confident to play them when they come."
The WDCA has moved both twenty20 semi-finals, which were set to run on Sunday, to Dennington with the games following each other.
Brierly-Christ Church, Dennington and Woodford need one win to progress while Russells Creek, Merrivale and Wesley-CBC are fighting for the final spot.
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