Timaru have a second chance to stop Celtic’s charge to a three-peat of senior cricket titles this season, when the two sides square-off in the two-day Tweedy Cup final at Aorangi Oval starting today.
Timaru captain Hayden Butler certainly has the attention of Celtic after claiming before the Twenty20 (T20) final last month “we’re going to win and people just have to deal with that”.
They ended up losing by 60 runs.
Butler said the comment was “gamesmanship” on his part, and he took a more diplomatic approach this time around.
“They [Celtic] have been the benchmark all season, and we’re going to have to take every opportunity we get if we are going to beat them.”
Celtic captain Craig Davies said Butler’s comments two weeks ago had not been forgotten.
“When we read those comments in the paper, we were all pretty fired-up to get to the ground and prove something.”
Celtic’s only blemish this season was a round-robin T20 loss to Timaru, and the last time the two teams met in the Tweedy Cup, Celtic dismissed Timaru for 48 in the second innings on their way to a 218-run victory at Ashbury Park.
Davies said his team had spoken about wanting to win all three competitions, but their first win in a Tweedy Cup final in two years was their only focus this weekend.
Celtic will have a vastly experienced team, full of South Canterbury Hawke Cup players, even without James Laming, Willie Wright and the injured Grant Watt.
It is a different story for Timaru, with more than half their team experiencing a Tweedy Cup final for the first time.
Not even Butler was a part of their last final appearance in 2007-2008 when they beat Temuka on a first innings result.
A change in the rules means the final will not be played under the Hawke Cup format and the points-based system that has been in effect for the entire season will be used.
It means a poor start with bat or ball can be overcome.
Josh Smallridge is one player for Timaru likely to play a key role. In the final against Temuka, he batted at 11 and did not bowl.
Today, he could open the batting and take the new ball.
“He is a talented sportsman,” Butler said. “He came to cricket very late, but he has improved every season.”
The first ball will be bowled at midday. For updates during the day visit http://www.facebook.com/timaruherald