Weather gods shine on Cudgen
THE weather gods shone favourably upon Cudgen Cricket Club on Saturday with every result in the penultimate round falling auspiciously for the new ladder leaders.
Showing unprecedented favouritism for Cudgen over any other side in the LJ Hooker League, Zeus opened up the skies upon all Round 12 venues except Reg Dalton Oval and Bilambil Sports Complex.
The inclement conditions resulting in washed-out draws for former front-runners Casino and third-placed opponents Lennox Head, and fourth-placed Ballina and their adversaries Alstonville (seventh).
Conversely, Cudgen were able to complete both days’ play to record a one-sided outright victory over wooden-spoon favourites Murwillumbah, while South Tweed kept their slim final hopes alive with a first innings victory over Terranora in the only other match to record a definitive result.
Pocketing 14 points for their efforts while the remaining top four registered just four, Terry Wilson’s men relegated Casino to second spot and bridged a five-point gap between the two favourites.
They also opened up an unassailable 14-point lead over third-placed Lennox, securing their highest finish for three years and ensuring a home semi-final in a fortnight’s time.
“It’s one of those things, we were very lucky and, yeah, we’re very happy at the moment,” Wilson said.
“The last few years the weather has always worked against us but on Saturday it was pristine, perfect timing.
“We’re leading the race for the minor premiership. But just as massive for us is the fact we’re ensured a home semi now which is what we’ve strived for all year.
“Playing at home makes a huge difference, particularly with the weather being so unpredictable, and hopefully we can go on with the job.
“We have such a good side, there is no reason why we shouldn’t.”
The outright was Cudgen’s second this season and with the other coming over Pottsville in round two, Wilson is hoping results continue to mirror those of the opening rounds ahead of Saturday’s season-ender with local rivals South Tweed.
“We need to keep our momentum going and next weekend is a very big game, a game we have to win,” Wilson said.
“If we lose, we’re likely to finish second so it is undoubtedly the biggest game of the season, of the last few years.”
On the opening day, Cudgen won the toss and elected to field, unleashing their devastating pace attack upon their young and comparatively inexperienced opposition with James Julius and Damien King each bagging three-fors.
However, Gabriel Araujo (21), Dominic Edwards (19), Daniel Catt (22) and Paul Swift (15) dug deep to drag their team to a reasonable 112, though Cudgen got there before stumps for the loss of two wickets, courtesy of Craig Wilson’s unbeaten 57 and Tait Burns (48).
When the second day got under way, it was evident Murwillumbah would be in for some of the same man-handling with James Julius (2-28 from 12 overs) grabbing two early wickets to have the visitors flailing at 3-35.
James Adams (2-4 from two overs) also chimed in with a brace.
But the second demolition was led by Burns who tore through the Murwillumbah line-up to finish with 5-21 from seven overs.
As the figures suggest, Murwillumbah struggled to gain any ascendancy and with Veerinder Singh Gosel (13), Josh Sigley (10), Araujo (13) and Alec Williams (15no) the only batsmen to reach double figures, limped to 73.
Again Cudgen made light work of the chase, dropping just four wickets en route to the target with Burns again putting his hand up for man-of-the-match honours with an innings high 26 not out.
“Take nothing away from Murwillumbah because they have got some brilliant young talent in that side and will be a force in coming years,” Wilson said.
“I mean, they had 15 and 16-year-olds playing against adult Queensland Country bowlers and they held their own admirably.
“But we’ve got a lot of talent and we’re firing at the right time.
“Arguably our best batsman Aaron Laycock hasn’t needed to take to the crease for a few weeks.”