Oakley ready to blaze a trail on road to finals
West UC bowler Ben Oakley. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
In-form paceman Ben Oakley holds the key to Wests/UC turning the tables on Eastlake and taking valuable momentum into the Douglas Cup finals.
Having had a reduced workload in the rain-affected Futures League clash in Brisbane during the week, the ACT Comets spearhead will be fresh for the opening day of the two-day match at Jamison Oval, starting on Saturday.
That spells danger for Eastlake as the Demons aim to string together a remarkable four straight outright victory.
Oakley is the leading wicket-taker in the first-grade competition, with 56 wickets across all formats at an average of 9.38 - 17 wickets more than his nearest rival.
The left-arm paceman is coming off a seven-wicket haul in last week's dramatic tie with Queanbeyan, and Wests/UC wicketkeeper Beau McClintock rated him as one of the quickest bowlers he's kept to.
''He's another step up to what I've kept to in the past and he's a yard quicker than anyone around here,'' McClintock said. ''He's been awesome for us, getting those crucial wickets when we really need it.
''He does everything with the ball and chips in with the bat.''
Oakley showcased his talents as a lower-order hitter with a dynamic cameo for the Comets, blasting 47 from just 26 balls as they chased quick runs in their match with Queensland at Allan Border Field.
The Comets needed first-innings points to secure the competition for the second time in three seasons, but heavy rain which resulted in the first two days being washed out worked against them. Queensland won the toss and was never headed from there, bowling the Comets out for 143 before finishing 7-222 declared.
It wasn't the ideal ending for McClintock, who moved from Newcastle in the off-season and has become a regular in the Comets line-up.
''Not playing for most it made it pretty tough to handle,'' he said.
''The game was pretty much won at the toss, the pitch was that hard to bat on.''
The top four of the Douglas Cup has already been decided ahead of the final round, with Wests/UC and Eastlake to be joined in a fortnight's time by Tuggeranong and Queanbeyan.
Eastlake is hoping to collect its second trophy after beating Wests/UC in the one-day final last month.
In other games, Tuggeranong should be too strong for North Canberra-Gungahlin, Queanbeyan will be looking to enter the finals on a winning note when it faces ANU and Weston Creek and Ginninderra round off their campaigns at Stirling Oval.