SILVERWARE will be on offer for the second time this season this weekend, with the finals of the Twenty20s to be played at Berry Sporting Complex on Sunday.
Four teams are still in the mix for the trophy, with both semi-finals and the grand final to be played on the same day.
There have been a few surprises in the makeup of the finals, with newcomers Batemans Bay topping their pool, while defending premiers Berry are missing altogether.
Batemans Bay will play off against Bomaderry for a place in the grand final, while Nowra and Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen will do battle in the other semi.
It has been a bit of a tough initiation to the Shoalhaven for Batemans Bay, who are on the bottom of the two-day ladder, but their skipper Andrew Malcolm said the Twenty20s have been a positive for the club for a couple of reasons.
“Obviously it’d be great to win trophies, but it’s more about getting the kids some experience,” he said.
“We said before the season that we’re trying to build a club and from the get go we said we would use the Twenty20s to give the kids a go.
“It’s worked out well for us and it’s been a good opportunity for them.”
While the idea of a Twenty20 fairytale is definitely appealing, Malcolm admitted it is a bit of a long shot.
“We’re in there with three of the top sides in the competition, so we’re under no illusions about how tough it will be.
“We only just got over the line against Basin last week and against a team like Bomaderry, we’ll have to work even harder.
“But we’re looking forward to the challenge and it will show us where we’re at.”
A win would be just as important to their opponents Bomaderry, who have been runners-up in the Twenty20s and one-dayers last season.
Given they have been so close to winning something in all formats in recent years, their captain Jordan Matthews said it would be nice to finally get some silverware.
“I think we can win our semi and then hopefully we can get over the line in the final,” he said.
“Either Nowra or Ex-Servos would be a very tough game, but I think we can take lots of confidence out of the win against Berry,” he added.
Bomaderry defeated the Magpies last weekend to dash any hopes they had of claiming a third straight title.
While he was happy with the result, Matthews thought there was still a lot they need to do better in the finals.
“The thing that stood out for me in the Berry game was that we scored really quickly at first, but then once there was a little bit of pressure on, we found it harder to turn the strike over.
“We’ve got to be able to keep the singles ticking over.
“Generally I think we’ve fielded pretty well, but a couple of costly overs can take it away from you.”
Ex-Servos will play in the first game of the day against Nowra and their skipper Daniel Gleeson believes the winner will probably go on to take the title.
Due to a washout in their last game, Ex-Servos haven’t actually played a Twenty20 since before Christmas, but are undefeated in the tournament so far.
“We won the first game against Basin pretty convincingly and then I thought we chased a pretty good total against Ulladulla, but they were both before Christmas so it’s hard to get a read,” Gleeson said.
“We’ve been going ok lately, but it’s hard to get any indications from two-day cricket,” he added.
Despite being the defending two-day premiers and last year’s one-day premiers, the Twenty20 title is one that has eluded Ex-Servos since 2009-10.
Gleeson said he would be very happy if they could win it again, but knows they face a tough task against Nowra in the semis.
He said allrounder Michael Coulter is the main player they need to look out for.
“He’s probably the best player in the comp.
“He’ll more than likely bowl four pretty tight overs and he can score runs quickly, so he’s a danger man for sure.”
Gleeson said he would be looking to the likes of Lain Beckett and Trevor Thomason to step up for them, but is not expecting to repeat his own heroics from the first round by scoring another hundred.
“I don’t know how I’ll go about that, it might have been a fluke,” he laughed.
“It would be nice though.”
Their opponents Nowra have already taken out the one-day competition and would be on target for the trifecta if they were to win on Sunday.
However they are not going into the finals on the back of the best form in the shortened format after a convincing loss to North Nowra-Cambewarra last week.
Their captain Michael Coulter said they have been well below par, but was still confident of their chances.
“We’ve actually been pretty terrible to be honest,” he said.
“But we’ve been playing bad and still winning, which I suppose is a good sign.
“Hopefully that means we’re getting closer to playing well and this is the weekend we can put it all together.”
Coulter said winning a Twenty20 title would be a great honour for the team and for the club, but knows any of other teams could get the job done.
“Twenty20 is a funny game and it only takes one player to take a game away from you.
“We saw that last week with Nick McDonald getting 80-odd against us.
“But in our team we’ve got a lot of batsmen who can score pretty quickly and we bowl in short spells and if someone like Scott Fagerlund gets going, then you never know what’s going to happen.”