Before a ball was bowled or a boundary struck in this season’s War Veterans Cup, Gunnedah skipper Mitchell Swain talked about Gunnedah’s recalibrated mentality and their desire to succeed.
Two and a half months later and his resolve has not wavered. If anything, it has intensified.
So with Gunnedah knowing a win over Inverell in Inverell on Sunday will secure them a berth in the final, it is unsurprising that Swain went on the “attack” – describing Gunnedah as a side who would never go quietly into the night.
“We don’t sit back and wait for the game to come to us. We attack it,” he said. “That’s what we’ll be doing on Sunday. Whether we’re batting, bowling or fielding, we’ll be taking the game on.
“The players Gunnedah has allows us to do that. It’s not often someone in the side, when we are attacking like that, doesn’t fire on the day. If it doesn’t come off, it doesn’t come off. That’s how we like to play our cricket.”
With pace bowler Brad Jenkinson and explosive allrounder batsman Andy Mack in the side, it is easy to cultivate that mindset.
But Swain said Gunnedah was more than a kind of two-trick pony, pointing to Jenkinson’s opening bowling partner Farran Lamb, Ryan Cooper and Brad Gander as being among the other players who could also drive that attack ethos.
“We’ve got blokes who can really attack the game, and that’s what we’ll be doing,” he said.
That attitude was superbly illustrated under the most trying of circumstances in Gunnedah’s last clash – a defeat of Tamworth at Wolseley Park on December 17. It was a day when the mercury hit 37, the wind was conspicuous by its absence and Gunnedah beat Tamworth for the first time in years.
Swain said Gunnedah had taken much confidence from the win but recognised it was just one win and a loss on Sunday could result in it all going horribly wrong. Because if that happens and Narrabri beats Armidale in Narrabri on Sunday, Inverell and Narrabri will advance to the February 18 final.
“It’s come down to the last game and we’re obviously very close [to making the final],” he said, adding: “You never get too far ahead of yourself. We know Inverell are a good side. Certainly on their day they can beat anyone.”
Swain said Gunnedah would field a similar side to the one who beat Tamworth, with Cameron Milne still sidelined through injury and Nick Willoughby out due to a personal engagement.