Albion have suffered a major blow ahead of their grand final replay against Court House this weekend, with captain and bowling spearhead Brad Jenkinson sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Jenkinson will be out of action until after the Christmas break after tearing the rotator cuff in his shoulder. He wants to make sure he is fit for the run to the finals.
The news comes as experienced Court House batsman Brad Gander labelled as “pretty crucial” the clash against Albion, which starts at Kitchener Park on Saturday.
It will be first time this season the sides have met in a two-dayer, after Court House beat Albion in last season’s grand final to secure back-to-back premierships.
The sides have met once before this season, with Albion beating Court House by 126 runs in a one-dayer at Kitchener Park on October 20.
But Gander said neither sides was at their strongest for that encounter, and this clash would be a much better indication of where they were at. It is unclear if he knew Jenkinson was out when he made the comment.
“We won’t meet them again until towards the end of the year,” Gander said. “Pretty much, the way things are turning out, whoever gets the win here might take a bit of catching at the top of the table.”
After five matches, Court House sit atop the table on 46.30 points, with Albion in second place on 41.28 points. Court House are coming off an outright win over Mornington, while Albion had an innings win over Kookaburras last round.
Meanwhile, Mornington have secured the services of young right-arm seamer Trent Winsor for their clash against Kookaburras at Wolseley Oval, starting Saturday.
Winsor had played for Kookaburras’ first-grade side for four seasons including this season. He snared two wickets in the side’s loss to Albion last round but then applied for a clearance to leave the club. His father, Vinnie, and brother, Braithen, play first grade for Kookaburras.
Mornington would field their strongest side this season on Saturday, captain Sam Lumby said.
“It's looking like we’ve got a bloody good team shaping up,” Lumby said. “So it will be good to get out there.”
Kookaburras captain Cameron Milne wished Winsor “good luck”. “Who knows, it might be the best thing for his cricket,” he said. “It will certainly be interesting, given he will play against us first up."
Milne added: “Honestly, we don’t hold any grudges against guys who move to different clubs or leagues. It’s a personal decision, and I respect that.”