WEST Warrnambool skipper Ben Threlfall is urging his batsmen to play fearlessly in a bid to kick start a rise up the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association ladder.
The Panthers are locked on one win and two losses after three rounds but have largely impressed the second-year captain.
Threlfall's men were dominant against Port Fairy on Sunday - chasing down the Pirates' 126-run total in just 28 overs - a result which the leader felt was reward for solid form.
West fell to Merrivale in round one but managed to post 139 despite losing two early wickets. It managed 163 against Brierly-Christ Church on Saturday - a score Threlfall deemed as par - but couldn't prevent Bulls veteran Nathan Murphy from posting a 69-run innings to set up a successful chase.
"We're working on batting with intent a bit," he told The Standard.
"We want to go out and score and be positive but not worry about going out.
I think we bat pretty deep and don't have any issues there so we want guys to not be worrying about going out and just play their shots.- Ben Threlfall
"I think we bat pretty deep and don't have any issues there so we want guys to not be worrying about going out and just play their shots."
Threlfall said youngsters like Fletcher Cozens and Joe Nyikos were hitting the ball well but were just bereft of luck early on.
"The younger lads have missed out a bit but that's just a bit to do with confidence," he said.
"They'll be fine once they spend a bit of time in the middle."
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The Melbourne Country Week batsman, who is recognised as one of the WDCA's best technical players, has an average of 85 after three rounds. Threlfall has posted three half-centuries to start the season and is second behind Dennington's Telge Peiris for runs scored in 2021-22.
Keeping cricket simple was paying dividends in form, Threlfall said.
"I feel like I'm just keeping it pretty simple. I think I have a pretty good understanding of my own game now and what my strengths are," he said.
"I've been fortunate enough to get a few runs but really, I think we're all hitting the ball well."
Threlfall said the Panthers were tweaking all aspects of their game in a bid to improve, including bowling and fielding.
He revealed they'd spent extra time on fielding in a bid to emerge as one of the competition's better teams.
"I think if you look at the better teams over the past few seasons, it's no coincidence they're also the best fielding sides," he said.
"It's massive if you can cut off those singles in the ring field and hold your catches."
As for the likelihood of Nyikos - a bona fide top-order batsman - bowling more after a 3-18 haul from nine overs on Sunday?
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"He bowled well (on Sunday)," Threlfall said with a smile.
"The wicket was really skidding on and we thought if we could get someone to come on and use that well it'd be good.
"The beauty is that we have a lot of options with the ball now. We can throw it around, take the pace off it at times if the circumstances allow."
West Warrnambool plays the undefeated Wesley Yambuk on Saturday with the Beavers still on a high after knocking off Albert Park rival Nestles this past week.
The Panthers could climb up into the top four with a victory.
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