There’s everything to play for, but really nothing to lose today for the Tech Stags.
Entering the final round of pool play in the South Canterbury senior cricket competition’s 50 over season, the Stags have booked their spot in the playoffs in their debut season, but just where they will play next week is the only unknown factor.
Win and a semi-final at the Domain Oval in Ashburton is on the cards.
Lose however and it’s pack up the bags and head to Timaru next Saturday for the third-and-fourth playoff.
So perhaps there is an advantage to success today in their clash with Celtic, especially when you take into account that either way it’s Celtic who they will have turn around and face again in seven days’ time.
If there’s one thing the Stags have both shown and learned over the course of the competition, it’s that momentum and consistency go a long way to success in such a long season.
Victory today would give them the slight mental advantage ahead of next week, and the prospect of not having to travel two weeks in a row would also be an added bonus.
And if they needed any extra motivation, in the longer format of the game they are yet to beat Celtic this season.
They opened their campaign against them way back in October and were beaten by 28 runs and then played them again a month later where they were again beaten, this time by 34 runs.
But that was back in a phase of the season where, by their own admission, Tech were trying to find their feet.
Switching from the bashing nature of the Canterbury Country competition to the much more structured and methodical style of play in the 50-over format in South Canterbury, they took time to adjust.
It’s really shown since the competition returned for 2021 with the side losing just one fixture, to the table-topping Pleasant Point, but winning their other three games to see them push for a top four spot and bring plenty of forward momentum into the final stages of the season.
Taking the gamble to shy away from the Canterbury Country scene was a big call, but to this point it’s proven to be the correct decision with Tech really announcing themselves as a part of the fabric now and proving their worth with some strong results on the pitch.
Today they’ll need to rely, yet again, on their experienced and in-form players.
Ryan Bell and Des Kruger have been demons with the bat in recent weeks, and again will need to knuckle down and show some resolution while players like Richard Print, Bevan Ravenscroft and Harry Jones will be asked to do plenty with the ball.
Not scoring enough runs with the bat has been the downfall thus far against Celtic, so altering that anomaly will be the first step on the way to winning today.
Play begins at the Ashburton Domain Oval at 12 noon.
– By Matt Markham