JOONDALUP will be looking to break a 35-year premiership drought when they take on Melville for WACA first grade supremacy at the WACA ground this weekend.
And in a major coup for the competition, the match, which would normally be played over two days, will be played in first-class conditions across the four days of the Easter break.
Centurions coach Ric Olsen, who was a part of the club’s last premiership in 1978, when it was based in North Perth, expected the four-day format to test his players’ resolve.
“The guys with the strongest cricket minds will win this game,” he said.
Melville boasts the inclusion of Australian one-day batsman Adam Voges, as well as WA paceman Ryan Duffield, who has been the form bowler of the first grade competition. Olsen predicted an enticing battle between Voges and Centurions paceman Denver D’Cruz, who has been known to trouble the dangerous WA captain.
“We’ll be honing in on him – he’s the prized wicket,” he said.
Joondalup captain Michael Swart declared it a battle between the best pace attacks in the competition, enhanced by the world-class conditions at the WACA ground.
“The WACA’s been a bowler-friendly wicket this year,” he said. “It’s two very strong bowling attacks going at each other.”
Swart, who has been in solid form in recent weeks, was looking forward to facing up at the WACA crease.
“Walking out there to bat I’ll be very confident,” he said. “I’ve played against Melville a lot so I know what they’re about.”
Joondalup is coming off a tight semi-final win over Claremont-Nedlands away last weekend.
Josh Anderson became the hero with both bat and ball, taking 5-42 and amassing an unbeaten 58 to guide Joondalup (8-181) past the Tigers’ 179.
The Centurions have played Melville just once this season, when they drew in round three.
But Joondalup has had the upper hand in recent years, having not to lost the Alfred Cove-based side since the 2008-09 season.
Joondalup last contested a grand final in 2009-10 when they were thrashed by Scarborough.
Swart, who played in that final, said this season’s grand final side was much stronger than the 2009-10 line-up. “Four seasons ago we went into the game with two quicks – Denver D’Cruz and James Boyand,” he said.
“This time we’ve got those two plus Josh Anderson and James Sprague.”