Newtown captain Mat Skinner admits he thought his side was going to lose its Whitney Cup opening round match on day one at one stage last weekend.
The Tigers, playing reigning premiers Macquarie, were in all sorts of trouble at 9-142 before a 118-run last wicket stand between Dwayne Kent (83 not out) and Troy Tracey (42) helped the score to 260.
Then, the Tigers bowlers found their groove to leave the Blues 4-82 at stumps and the match evenly poised heading into day two at No. 1 Oval.
“That had us looking like we weren’t going to make 150 and I thought we might lose on day one because they would have come out a lot more free,” Skinner said.
“So that partnership was invaluable and got us to a defendable position and now it’s pretty even.”
Angus Cusack had a day to remember for the Blues last week, taking a hugely impressive six wickets before scoring an unbeaten half century to keep his side in the contest.
He will resume on 51 not out while Jason Green will come to the crease yet to score and that partnership shapes as a key one, with 178 more runs still needed for a Macquarie win.
“It’s very even,” Skinner said.
“They’ve got Angus Cusack and Jason Green and then Keiran Brien so they’re big wickets and we need to get at least two of those out.
“I’d love all three but I’d settle for two and then we can just work away at the other end.”
Skinner and his brother Tom took two wickets each with the new ball last week, including that of debutant Anthony Heraghty, and they will be key again on Saturday.
So often in recent years the Tigers bowling attack has been dominated by the Skinner trio of Mat, Tom and Steve but the captain feels there is more depth this summer.
Tom Barber continues to develop as a spinner while Troy Tracey and Dan Holland always get through a number of overs and newcomer Jack Kempston got his hands on the ball last week as well.
“There’s a lot more variety this year,” Skinner said.
“I’d still like a left-arm seamer but we’ll settle for a few spinners and seamers. There’s bowlers who can swing the ball either way so there’s plenty of variation.”
While pleased with his options, Skinner knows there will be little they can do if the Blues batsmen, Cusack and Green in particular, get off to a flying start on Saturday.
“The first hour is key,” he said.
“If we can keep it tight and take a wicket or two then we’ll go a long way to winning but if not Macquarie could walk it in.”
Play resumes at 1pm.