WITH the festive season drawing to a close, cricketers around the Shoalhaven will jump back into action this Saturday as the second half of the SDCA season begins.
Round 10 marks not only the start of 2014 but the resuming of two-day cricket in SDCA first grade and the long awaited one-day final on Sunday between Nowra and Berry.
After witnessing a five-nil Ashes whitewash over the summer, Shoalhaven cricketers will be keen to take the field this Saturday after nearly three weeks off.
The match of the round this Saturday will be between Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen and Nowra who will meet at Hayden Drexel Oval as the Ex-Servos look to avenge their round three to their cross town rivals.
Despite Nowra still remaining comfortably ahead on the competition ladder, their loss to Berry just before Christmas proved the top places on the ladder will still be within contention during 2014.
Ex-Servo’s will be likely challenger for the top spot with the currently second placed side finding strong form towards the end of 2013.
Ex-Servo’s batsman Simon Schmotz and skipper Daniel Gleeson have both scored blistering centuries in the weeks leading up to Christmas with Gleeson’s 100 not out coming in a Twenty20 run chase of only 117.
Nowra’s bowling has been their strength this season with Michael Coulter (19 wickets) and Alex Legge (17 wickets) leading the SDCA bowling aggregate.
Justin Weller (16 wickets) is closer behind in fourth place on the aggregate, proving the depth of the Nowra attack.
The clash is sure to be an exciting one with their last one going right down to the wire as Nowra stole the show.
Berry will be looking to continue their good form this weekend when they take on Batemans Bay at the Berry Sporting Complex.
Despite their slow start to the season, Berry dominated the one-day competition going through the seven one-day games undefeated to earn themselves a place in the one-day final.
Their success was largely thanks to Brad Carey, who held the Berry batting together on numerous occasions to be averaging 47.2 at the end of 2013.
However it is the Berry bowling attack that has been causing problems for their opposition of late.
Ty Cherry has been a welcomed addition back into the Berry side and along with Chris McCarron, Glen Brandon and Brad Carey, posses a formidable pace attack.
Former Oak Flats spinner Phil Dell’Orefice made his debut for Berry in the last round before Christmas, taking 3/30 off nine overs in an impressive display.
Batemans Bay will have a tough task on their hands on Saturday but will look to all-rounder Marc Stiller to perform.
Stiller has been impressive with the bat this season and will hope to be supported by opener Paul Gallen and Matt Sethi.
At Sanctuary Point Oval it will be Bay and Basin hosting Bomaderry in an important fixture in the scheme of the competition.
Bomaderry, who currently sit third of the ladder, will hope to pick up a strong share of points in their round 10 match against the sixth placed Basin side.
Despite narrowly missing the one-day final, Bomaderry have been a consistent performer with only one loss to their name this season and will hope they can make a mark in an attempt to crack back into the top two.
Last time the teams met, Bomaderry made light work of an under strength Basin side, chasing 145 in only 21.5 overs.
Dominant displays by batsmen Blake Munilla (60) and Jason Bell (51) marked the emphatic win.
Munilla and Bell continued this with regularity up until Christmas, with both batsmen surpassing 200 runs comfortably this season.
Basin will be hoping for skipper Jonathan Hill to lead the way with the bat and will be supported by Michael and Brandon Labb.
Basin has had only limited success with the ball this season, taking only 53 wickets as opposed to Bomaderry’s 70.
With both teams possessing strong batting line ups, it will be a matter of who can bowl well and take wickets to ensure the win.
The final match of the round will be between North Nowra Cambewarra and Ulladulla United at Bernie Regan Sporting Complex.
Ulladulla proved they had the batting firepower to challenge the top teams early in the season but have struggled in recent rounds, dropping out of the four and trailing Berry by 20 points on the ladder.
However, they will head into their round 10 match as the favourites with Norths yet to mark their first win of the season.
Harley Bell has been the shining light for Ulladulla this season, having already scored 328 runs at 54.67 including a record breaking 159 not out early in the season.
Despite sitting last on the ladder, Norths batsman Nick McDonald had a solid first half of the year, notching up 257 runs at 32.13 to be second on the batting aggregate.
Both sides will be hoping they can start 2014 with a win, especially Ulladulla, in a bid to push their way back into the top four spot and finals contention.