THEY’VE lost four matches in a row and are locked in a four-way stoush for a semi-final berth yet Hibo-Tully Park skipper Brad Smith insists his charges aren’t about to hit the panic button.
The lone Goulburn line-up in the Southern Lands first grade competition lapsed the ascendency on two occasions and paid the price with a 22-run loss to Bowral at Kenmore Oval at the weekend.
The loss means Hibo-Tully joins Bowral and Wingello on 56 points and is staring down the barrel at a sudden-death semifinal – that is of course if they even make the finals.
Stand-in captain Smith, who’s taken the reins from the injured Mikael Webber, remains upbeat about his team’s premiership chances.
First thing’s first, however, the locals need to aim up at the crease.
None of the home side’s batsmen from number three to eight made double figures and butchered an opportunity to bush for outright victory.
Defeat seemed unlikely by the time reliable openers Mick Earl and Justin Rowlings peeled off 78 runs in pursuit of Bowral’s 163.
Yet as often happens in cricket, the first wicket ignited a domino effect. Number nine batsman Smith clocked the third highest score with an unbeaten 15.
Substandard batting performances aren’t race occurrences.
“It’s never easy to win a game when our batsmen aren’t getting runs,” a frank Smith said post-match.
“And that’s our situation at the moment. We didn’t bat well enough.”
The hosts’ collapse was the second reprieve given to the visitors. Tight bowling and application in the field left Bowral 8/108 and pondering the prospect of a below-par score.
The tail wagged, however, and the match rolled back into the balance.
The outcome means Hibo-Tully Park, a merger between Tully Park and the Coolavin-Bowling Club, is in danger or missing the semi-finals come March.
Despite the poor streak, which includes three first innings defeats and a one-day final loss dating back to early December, Smith said his team remained in the hunt for the BDCU Cup.
“Once we get some continuity of players, our team should be okay,” he said.
“We’re not too worried.”
There were of course, positive signs in the loss. Spinner Mitchell Cook nabbed three first innings wickets and opening pair Earl and Rowlings managed scores of 41 and 36 respectively.
Captain Webber is likely to return for his team’s next match, against Moss Vale at Bradman Oval beginning Saturday week.