Kealba-Green Gully has only touched the surface of what it can produce this summer, according to captain Evan Long.
That’s a scary thought for the North West Metropolitan Cricket Association Luscombe Shield clubs that have been powerless to stop the Cougars from winning the past three flags.
On paper, the Cougars seem to be on the right track – ranked first in runs aggregate and wickets taken, and only beaten in one game prior to the Christmas break – but Long is not convinced his team has come close to realising its full potential this season.
“From a team perspective, I don’t think we’ve played anywhere near our best as yet,” he said.
“We’re still up near the top of the ladder, which is what we’re aiming for each year, but hopefully we’re going to get a bit more consistency after Christmas.”
Kealba-Green Gully has a target on its back, but that comes with the territory when you are a three-time defending champion.
Not only are the Cougars getting the best out of their opponents each time they take to the field, but the competition in general has improved this summer and the gulf between the top and bottom sides appears to be closing.
“If we drop even five per cent, the other teams will be up for us,” Long said. “If we’re slightly off our game, we’re giving sides a chance because the competition is getting better and more even.”
While the team is yet to click into first gear as a collective, Kealba-Green Gully does have a plethora of batting and bowling options – if one player is down, another will pick up the slack.
Four Cougars are ranked in the top 15 of the Luscombe Shield batting charts, including Long (292 at an average of 58), Matthew Nadzielski (239 at 39), Roshan Laksiri (220 at 44) and Dave Rogowski (209 at 34). Three of the top five wicket takers are Cougars, including Laksiri (17 at 10), Danny Viani (14 at 19) and Nadzielski (12 at 11).
The Cougars also have three spinners – Laksiri, Viani and Long – who will be crucial on the long hot summer days in the field still to come.
“I’ve always said for us to go forward, we don’t want to rely on one or two people with the bat or the ball, or even in the field,” Long said.
“We’ve got guys who can contribute both sides of the game.
“We’ve got a bit of variety and good options as we go deeper into the season.”