The mind games have started with the two championship contenders claiming underdog status heading into this afternoon’s last round of the Bidwill Cup premier cricket championship.
Only three points separate leaders the Barbarians [65 points] and Burger King Red Star , and whoever takes first innings points  is likely to be crowned champions, although bonus points [four batting and four bowling] could come into play especially if the forecast showers impact on the game.
The Barbarians are severely weakened with the unavailability of player-coach Mark Childs and his sons Quinn and Ethan, who are attending Quinn’s graduation from Otago University.
The twins have been instrumental in the Barbarians’ run of good form. Quinn has dominated with the bat, almost singlehandedly winning some games, while his left-arm spin has been difficult to get away. Ethan has been injured for much of the competition but returned to take seven wickets in their most recent outing – first-innings win over Inspire Living Greytown.
Mark Childs was happy to claim the underdog status, given the absence of his sons, and the fact they will be up against a “pretty stacked” Red Star side. ,
“They are big losses, but in saying that, the good old Barbarian spirit could kick in, and we’ll put them under pressure, and hopefully, we’ll play a few mind games with them,” he said.
Duncan Didsbury will captain the Barbarians, who still include several players with representative experience, such as Jack and Hugo Wakeling, James Church and Angus Jaspers.
Red Star captain Jeremy Anderson said his team is pretty much full strength, and it’s nice to be in that position for one of the few times this season, but despite that, he was not keen to take the favourites tag.
“We still go in as underdogs; they gave us a good hiding in the first round, so we’ll take the underdog status for this one,” Anderson said.
Red Star, though, will front with plenty of representative experience, including current players Jeremy and Robbie Anderson, Jake Jonas, Nathan Elliott, and George Deans, as well as others who have played at that level.
Jonas poses a huge threat with bat and ball, having scored an unbeaten century against Lansdowne two weeks ago and 82 for Wairarapa against Whanganui last weekend, while he also took 3-10 off nine overs in the latter.
Anderson is uncertain how to approach the game should he win the toss and will leave any decision until he arrives at Greytown.
“We got caught out last time against these guys last time by bowling first, so we’ll just see what the wicket is like. We’re playing at Greytown, and I haven’t been down there for a while, so we’ll see what happens there,” he said.
“First innings is eight points, so in theory, if you get first innings, you should probably win it, so that will be the aim, and if there are any overs left in the day, we can reassess from there.”
Only pride is on the line when third-placed Greytown take on cellar dwellers Lansdowne at Queen Elizabeth Park Oval in the other match.
Both games are scheduled to get underway at 12 midday.