Premier in a tight spot

Harrison Knott has been handy with the bat and a revelation with the ball. Picture: Shawn Smits

Staring down the barrel of a third straight loss isn’t something associated with Sunbury United Cricket Club.

Yet that’s the situation of the reigning premier in Gisborne and District Cricket Association’s McIntyre Cup.

The side has lost its opening two matches of the season and is on the back foot after day one of its third-round match against Diggers Rest Bulla.

But for new United coach Jeremy Newman there’s lots of positives and he isn’t hitting the panic button.

“It’s been tough, results-wise, but we have been OK in each of the games,” he said.

“At stages we’ve had eight of last season’s premiership team missing and there’s still five or six of those players not playing.

“We’ve had five players under the age of 22 with us.”

Newman says injuries and unavailability of senior players has opened the door for newcomers.

“The club has won four premierships in recent years and the same players have played in most of them,” he says.

“Some of the guys who have come into the team were playing in D grade last season.”

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One who has really impressed Newman is 15-year-old Harrison Knott.

“He was playing in D-grade and under-16s as a batsman last season,” the coach says.

“I saw him bowling off-spin at training and saw something and thought I’d give him a go.

“He’s only new to bowling off-spin and once he gets the right temperament he will be a good bowler.

“His bowling has been better than his figures show and we haven’t really helped by dropping catches.”

Newman, who crossed from Melton Lions in the offseason, says Josh Smith, Steven Fogarty and Jesse James are others making the most of promotion to the senior team.

He says the key now is to ensure the side doesn’t panic about poor results so far.

“We’re a new group and taking a while to gel,” he says. “We have let ourselves down in the field and are working on that at training.

“You only need to finish fourth and anything can happen. You only have to play two finals.”

United’s fielding will need to improve immediately if it’s to beat Diggers Rest Bulla this weekend.

After being dismissed for 96, United will need quick wickets.

Diggers Rest will resume at 3-48.

“We dropped two catches late so they should have been five down,” Newman said.

“You have to always stay positive … if we can get a couple of wickets the pressure is on them.”

Romsey has secured first innings points against Sunbury; Riddell is in the box seat against Gisborne; and Woodend is 3-42 chasing Bacchus Marsh’s 150.