West Wimmera cricket begins run to the finals
|The West Wimmera Cricket Association 2017/18 season will resume on Saturday after the Christmas/New Year break with all four teams still in the running for the title.
After a couple of unexpected results before Christmas breathed new interest into the competition, even the current last placed Winiam still has a mathematical chance of making it to the final.
With only four teams in the competition the premiership is to be decided by just one final, with the top two teams on the ladder after the end of round nine progressing to a grand final which will be played over the first weekend in March.
The Nhill Tigers have already done enough to qualify for the grand final and Winiam needs to rely on many pieces falling into place, a number of which are beyond their control, for them to play in the season decider, but they are still in the mix.
The second grand finalist is most likely to be one of the current second or third placed teams.
Jeparit currently hold second place on the ladder but will need to win at least one of their remaining two games to remain there, whilst Kiata is only one win behind and more than capable of overtaking the Redbacks if the chance presents itself.
Nhill HOME Hardware West Wimmera Cricket Association Ladder - After 7 of 9 Rounds
| || Points || %|
|Nhill Tigers || 30 || 1.190|
|Jeparit || 24 || 1.016|
|Kiata || 18 || 1.012|
|Winiam || 12 || 0.756|
Two rounds remain, both consisting of two day games, with six points on offer for a first innings win in each game and ten for an outright.
Remaining games -
Round 8 - February 3 and 10
Nhill Tigers v. Jeparit at Davis Park, Nhill
Kiata v. Winiam at Nhill Secondary College Oval
Round 9 - February 17 and 24
Kiata v. Jeparit at Nhill Secondary College Oval
Nhill Tigers v. Winiam at Davis Park Nhill
How each team can make the grand final -
Games to come - Jeparit and Winiam
The Nhill Tigers have won five of their seven games so far this season which has them comfortably placed at the top of the ladder and with no two teams able to overtake them they have already booked their place in the grand final.
Although they do not have any pressure to maintain their place, the individuals in the team will be keen to work on their form so they are at the peak of their game at the right time of the season.
Games to come - Nhill Tigers and Kiata
If the Redbacks are to remain in second place and earn the right to defend the title they won last season, they will need to win at least one of their remaining two games. Wins in both games will assure a top two finish.
Their first encounter with the Nhill Tigers will be a challenge, but as the first team to defeat the ladder leaders this season, they are up to the task when they play at their best.
A loss by Jeparit and a win by Kiata in round 8 would see both of these teams go into the last round on the same points, effectively making their encounter a semi final with the winner progressing.
Games to come - Winiam and Jeparit
Two wins, one of which would be over Jeparit, will almost ensure Kiata make the grand final. This will either see them finish clearly ahead on points or equal on points but the wins would increase their percentage ahead of the Redbacks.
Games to come - Kiata and Nhill Tigers
For Winiam to progress to a second consecutive grand final, after having played in the season decider last year, they will need big wins over both Kiata and the Nhill Tigers, but will also need to rely on Jeparit losing both their games and Kiata defeating Jeparit in the last round.
Even if all of this falls into place, it will bring three teams together on the same points with percentage deciding the grand finalist, and currently Winiam has the lowest percentage of the three.
An unlikely finals appearance should be enough to inspire the Winiam players to perform at their best, but even that may not be enough to extend their season.
For an added twist on all of these possible outcomes, the bottom three teams, and Winiam in particular with their low percentage, all have the incentive to push for outright results as the extra four points could be enough to break the deadlock if either two or three of them finish with the same number of wins.
Despite this being a small competition, the prestige of winning the premiership in the longest running A grade cricket competition in the Wimmera remains a sought after prize and all four teams will be battling it out to the end to take the title.
This Saturday both games will be played in Nhill and commence at 1.30 pm.
Above - Adrian King of Jeparit in action late last year against the Nhill Tigers. - Dimboola Courier photo.
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