Picking the Para Districts grade one cricket premiers is a tough call. Who will win? Virginia will go into the Para Districts cricket grade one grand final as the underdog when it takes on Salisbury West this weekend.
Both teams cruised through their semi-final contests, with Salisbury West losing only four wickets in pursuit of Craigmore’s 149, while Virginia was two down when it passed One Tree Hill’s 128.
A look at the premiership ladder has Salisbury West 11.88 points clear of Virginia, thanks to an outright result, which gives it favouritism, but only just.
Statistically, the teams feature four of the competition’s top six batsmen.But, even in the batting charts, little separates the two sides.
Virginia’s Johnny Natsias finished second on the averages, with 522 runs, ahead of Salisbury West’s gun allrounder Travis McIntyre (471), almost on the strength of his highest score of 138*, while Shaun Lay (424) is ahead of Willi Sewell (407) due to his top innings of 154*.
If you’re looking for a surprise packet in the batting line-ups, it could be Virginia’s Nick O’Reilly, who recently scored a century.
For Westies, the game breaker could well be McIntyre, who has taken 39 wickets at an average of 10.95 during the season, but keep an eye on Sewell, who has potential to sneak under the radar. Virginia has its own deadly bowling duo of Natsias and Anthony Seccafien ( 29 wickets each).
However, it is Nathan Warren (43 wickets at 11.7) who West will really want to see off.
These three bowlers form a real potent threat to their grand final opponent.
There’s so much at play here, including history.
Salisbury West will feature in its fourth-straight grand final, having defeated Virginia in last year’s decider.
However, Virginia’s last premiership was in the 2013/14 season, when it claimed victory over Westies.
As with every grand final, the clichés come into play - runs on the board (each of the past three grand finals have been won by the team batting first), and playing depth will be the key, which means it’s hard to call a winner as both teams are evenly balanced.
Salisbury West just gets the nod, based on home-ground advantage. Other grand finals:
Grade 2: Dublin will take on Riverside.
Grade 3: Unbackable favourites Smithfield were knocked out by Parafield Gardens, who will now play Craigmore.
Grade 4: Riverside and Salisbury West will play each other after knocking out One Tree Hill and Rose & Crown, respectively.
Grade 5: Adelaide Warriors play North Pines.
Grade 6: Craigmore hosts Salisbury West.
Grade 7: North Pines plays Enfield United.