Whalers face Uppers in best of three Twenty20 qualifiers

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

Arch rivals Albany Cricket Association and Upper Great Southern Cricket Association will renew hostilities this weekend in the Toyota Country Cup Twenty20 qualifiers, playing a best-of-three series at Tigerland with a finals berth at stake.

After a disappointing senior country week campaign the Whalers will be keen to make amends and have named a strong 12-man squad as they look to replicate their performance in the 2014-15 Country Cup tournament.

Albany reached the finals that season after wins over Upper Great Southern and Lakes Cricket Association in the qualifying rounds before falling 0.09 percent short in net run rate of claiming the overall title.

Upper Great Southern won a tight encounter over Albany in last year’s Country Cup qualifiers to top the pool which included Avon Cricket Association and eventually finished runners-up to Peel Cricket Association.

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Ryan Kinnear will lead the Whalers in the T20 matches with classy top-order batsman Zane Marwick his deputy.

The side has plenty of senior depth with veterans Nathan Dovey and Craig Tonkin named along with damaging all-rounders Nathan Crudeli, Coen Marwick and Harry Broomhall.

Kinnear said it was fantastic that big-hitter Matt Walters and youngster Jesse Spaanderman would get their first taste in the Albany first XI.

“We are lucky we have got a good bunch of players committed to representative cricket,” he said.

“A couple of new guys get their chance to put their hand up.

“Walters has played some really good cricket for Railways and Jesse has been rewarded for his form in the second side at country week.”

Albany last won the Country Cup in 1986-87 and have finished runners-up on six occasions, which Kinnear said fuelled their motivation this weekend.

“This is a real good chance for us, the boys are raring to go,” he said.

“Uppers are one of the strongest country competitions going around and have players that can take the game away from us but we are just hoping our depth can make a difference.

“Hopefully we can get through and I think we can really give it a shake if we do.”

Upper Great Southern had named only 10 players yesterday but were confident of adding former WA Country XI captain Rodney Ford to their side.

Kalan Joyce will take the reins and is joined in the team by former Australian hockey star Bevan George, Albany product Julian Crudeli and fast bowler Grady Francis. “We were pretty lucky to get through last year,” Joyce said.

“Obviously it will be a pretty tight tussle, and it’s a bit of a different format, but we will look to go hard early.

“We are taking a bit of a different side this year and have a few new faces but the players coming in are just as capable.

“The games we have with Albany are always close, they are a quality side and it should be a great weekend of country cricket.”

All games will be played at Tigerland, the first at 11am on Saturday followed by a second at 2.30pm.

The third and deciding game, if needed, will be at 10am on Sunday.

There are no ACA A-grade fixtures this weekend because of the representative games.

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