Coffs cricket mid-season report card
By GREG WHITE
MIDWAY through the 2006-07 Coffs Harbour District cricket season and one question is on everybody's mind.
Will this be the end of the stranglehold Sawtell seem to have on this competition?
Well, not exactly.
Diggers Ex-Services lead the premiership table but snapping at their heels are the reigning champions.
The loss of enigmatic (and sometimes erratic) all-rounder Todd Gill and the switch to a two-day format had the critics tipping Sawtell would come back to the field, and after a first round loss to Diggers when they managed to post a paltry 135 on the first day, their appeared some merit in that suggestion.
But a huge score against the Tigers including a double century from Glen Johnson sat those critics back on their heels and gave captain Chris Neal a chance to bite back at the knockers.
From that day forward, Sawtell haven't looked back and are in the box seat, sweating on any stumble or sign of weakness from the frontrunners.
Diggers had their only blemish when they faced Tigers and bowlers Peter Bayley and Ben Waldsax tore their innings to shreds.
But one match later in the only one-dayer of the series they took a vulnerable Nana Glen apart and just like Sawty, they haven't looked back.
Unlike their closest rivals there have been no swashbuckling scores from the Diggers batsman.
It's been more like most of the order making a respectable contribution that forms part of a whole - and then, letting the amazing 30-plus year veteran Terry Herbert loose with the ball.
Rather than the express pace of his youth, Herbert now roars in off four paces - or two, depending on who you talk to - but has still managed to send 15 batsmen back to the pavilion in his four appearances with best figures of 5/17, an astonishing average of 7.33.
The big improvers have been Park Beach Bowling Club Colts, level-pegging in third berth with Coffs Hotel Tigers.
At the same stage last year Colts sat stone, motherless last and after five rounds this time around could even be unbeaten with an easily argued case both losses came in matches they could have - or should have - won with a little more application.
Tigers, after starting favourites in some quarters, have had no luck.
The unforeseen temporary withdrawal of Daryl Parmenter and the sometime waywardness of their bowling attack has seen them walk a tightrope between success and failure.
But even without their skipper, Tigers batting tail is arguable the longest among the contenders.
And what of Nana Glen, last years grand finalist?
Who would have thought they'd be so out of sorts and so inconsistent?
Unless they can get their full complement of 'stars' on the field on a week-to week basis, they may end up giving away too much ground to make up.
Finally, Bellingen won't win the competition and probably won't come within coo-ee of the final five.
But their day is coming once those exciting youngsters get more experience.
Try telling the 'babes' any different.