Lake Illawarra have fired a warning shot to their South Coast Cricket rivals with a comprehensive 147-run victory over The Rail in Saturday’s opening-round fixture.
The Lakers swept all that came before them in 2017-18, claiming all three competition trophies and losing just one game all season.
However, Lake Illawarra captain Mark Ulcigrai predicts Saturday’s result is not a sign of things to come and is expecting a challenging season for his side.
“We’d love to go back to back, but other sides have recruited really well and, given we’ve lost a few players, it’s going to be really tough,” Ulcigrai said. “We’re finding it’s definitely not going to be as easy as last year.
“We’ve lost Brendan White, Aaron Henry and Dave Lambert, that’s about 1000 runs and 50 wickets between them. We’ll have to find that through other players, so it’s going to be tough but I think everyone understands that, it’s not just going to happen for us this year.”
While the Lakers may be without Brendan White this season, they have retained the services of his brother Kerrod and it was Kerrod who did the damage with the ball on Saturday.
After being sent into bat on a tricky wicket, Lake Illawarra posted a competitive 182, with Ulcigrai top-scoring with 41 and White adding 33. White was then handed the new ball and it didn’t take him long to strike.
Bowling into the wind, White tore through The Rail’s batting lineup. The former Sydney Thunder squad member finished with figures of 7-5 off 8.3 overs as The Rail were bowled out for 35.
“We did well in tough conditions, all the guys took pride in their wicket. We thought 180 would have been competitive. After seeing how they bowled, I thought our bowling attack would be good enough, though I didn’t expect we would bowl as well as we did.
“Kerrod just bowled in the right areas. He had enough shape to find the edge, he had one LBW, but all the rest were caught behind the stumps.”
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White was supported by 17-year-old Blake Roach, who claimed 3-26. With the team losing so much experience this season, Ulcigrai will be relying on the team’s younger members to provide similar contributions throughout the year.
“It was Blake’s first time opening the bowling, we’ve given him a new role this year and we’re hoping he’s going to grow into that.
“We’re relying on those younger guys a lot. We had two guys yesterday who are under 18 and William Gamble is 19 or 20, they’re going to grow stronger throughout the year. We’ve got a good mixture of youth and experience, it’s just a matter of getting everybody on the park.”