By Lance Jenkinson
The odds are stacked in favour of a western suburbs side taking out the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association east-west group flag this season.
A remarkable five of the six teams entering the finals are from the west with fifth-ranked Noble Park the only side out east to make it to the March madness.
Now we know the six teams – minor premiers Williamstown, Yarraville, Altona, Werribee, Noble Park and Taylors Lakes – taking part in the finals action starting this weekend, let’s take a look at who could be the match-winners in the finals …
Brent McMinn (Williamstown)
Far and away the most dominant batsman in the east-west group this summer, Brent McMinn has posted 642 runs at 64.2 over 13 home-and-away games.
McMinn is a hard batsman to tie down because of the aggressive nature of his batting and on his day can take the game away from an opposition bowling unit.
He is also a quality leader, setting the standards for his teammates and providing the club with a blueprint for success.
Ashane De Silva (Yarraville)
Ashane De Silva has the ability to take big bags of wickets with his leg spin and that makes him a potential match-winner for Yarraville.
The evenness of the playing group is Yarraville’s strongest asset, but there’s no doubt a De Silva five-for could sway a final in their favour.
De Silva has taken 25 wickets at 12.7, including two five-for’s and a season best of 6-23 against Croydon. He also builds pressure with his economical bowling.
James Grubb (Altona)
James Grubb is one of the premier all-rounders in the competition.
Since returning from Footscray in the off-season, Grubb has delivered in spades with both bat and ball for the A’s.
He scored 505 runs at 56.1 and took 23 wickets at 17.9 in the regular season.
Either way, Grubb will likely find a way to get Altona into a strong position in a finals match.
The Dean brothers – Shaun and Matt (Werribee)
Shaun Dean has been a mark of consistency this summer, while Matt has experienced lean times post-Christmas after super form in the first half of the season.
If the Dean brothers can put it all together in the finals, Werribee will be the side from the bottom half of the six that causes the most headaches for the top three.
You get the feeling that the Dean brothers will rise to the occasion just in time for the Tigers to make their premiership push.
Marasinghe Perera (Noble Park)
There is no better spinning all rounder in the competition than Marasinghe Perera.
Be it with the bat, posting 535 runs – the second-most in the competition – at 44.6, or the ball, taking a third-best 27 wickets at 12.7, Perera is a constant threat.
Perera’s experience in the big moments – he took 8-46 in last year’s grand final loss to Plenty Valley – could sway games Noble Park’s way in the finals.
Aidan Brasher (Taylors Lakes)
Captain Jarrod Wakeling will need to take a hat full of wickets and West Indian import Marradon Bend has to score a lot of runs for Taylors Lakes to win – that goes without saying.
So, let’s throw up a wildcard here, 15 year old opening bowler Aidan Brasher.
Taking the new ball for the Lions in the finals will be a lot of pressure for one so young, but Brasher has relished every opportunity thrust in front of him.
He has taken 22 wickets – eighth best in the competition – at 15.2 and got better as the season has gone on, so why not trust that he can deliver again in the finals?
March 7-8, 1pm
Williamstown v Taylors Lakes (Williamstown Cricket Ground)
Yarraville v Noble Park (Yarraville Oval)
Altona v Werribee (JK Grant Reserve)