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Cricket Shepparton has plenty in reserve for final

Cricket Shepparton is confident it can overcome yesterday's loss to Colac when the two teams meet again in today's Melbourne Country Week promotion match.

DAMEN FRANCIS February 21, 2014 4:46am

Callum Whitehead will be after early wickets to help Cricket Shepparton win the division four final at Melbourne Country Week today.

Cricket Shepparton has earned an unlikely shot at the division-four title and promotion to division three at Melbourne Country Week.

Despite losing what turned out to be a dress rehearsal for today’s final against Colac at Williamstown Cricket Ground yesterday, Shepparton finished second on the ladder, with Seymour’s match against Central Gippsland washed out.

Shepparton will need to play much better today if it is to overcome an assured Colac side that is yet to to lose a match, but coach James Stokes said his side had a few tricks left up its sleeve.

‘‘After (yesterday) they may think they’ve got our measure, but we’ve got a bit left,’’ Stokes said.

‘‘Brayden McGregor only bowled a few overs and (captain Daniel Coombs) didn’t bowl at all, so they haven’t had a real good look at us ... and our field placings weren’t as defensive or aggressive as they will be (today).

‘‘You don’t want to show them everything and that would have been regardless of how we were going.

‘‘We’re in a pretty good spot, guys are fresher now than we were, but it will be a good contest, they’ve obviously played well to get through to where they are.’’

Sent in to bat on a damp, sticky wicket, Shepparton struggled throughout its innings and finished with 160 from 39.4 overs in a rain-reduced 45-over contest, giving Colac an extra five overs, if it needed them.

It did not, cruising to 5-165 in the 42nd over.

Opener Paul Parsons top-scored with 47, while Whitehead contributed a handy 34 not out at number 10.

Parsons was also the best of the bowlers, with 2-41 from nine overs, but other figures could have looked different had Shepparton not put down four catches in the field.

Stokes admitted knowing their fate might have played a part in the sloppy performance.

‘‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have rung and found out,’’ he said.

‘‘In hindsight I wouldn’t do it again or if I made phone call I would have made it outside so no-one would hear me.

‘‘It was a wet wicket, so they got the best use of the wicket, but we just didn’t adapt to the conditions, which is what we did well yesterday.’’

The only other downside to missing out on top spot is the ever-present threat of rain becomes more of a concern.

Shepparton was left high and dry three years ago when it missed out on promotion, despite winning all its games.

The final was washed out handing fellow unbeaten side Mornington Peninsula the title.

‘‘Unfortunately that’s the card you play,’’ Stokes said.

‘‘If you can’t get top spot then you’ve got to take what comes with it.

‘‘It’s all there in front of us.

‘‘These blokes are pretty keen to win it and they haven’t taken a backward step.’’

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