Time out with Tim Brown - Road to Grand Final

Captain Tim Brown admits “18 games is a long season for Fourth Grade” but the veteran leggie is on the precipice of a 16-year goal in this weekend’s Grand Final against Manly at North Sydney Oval.

The skipper spoke very exclusively to eastscricket.com.au ahead of the decider.

Did you expect to be in this position at the start of the season?

I had certainly hoped to be in this position and as the team will tell you I drilled into them for the first 5 rounds that I only had one goal for the year and that was to win the premiership. I guess sometimes it pays to be aggressive in the goals that we set for ourselves as it allows us to believe that we can achieve them. However there is still one game to go to make that goal come to fruition so ask me again on Sunday evening.

You won the first five games of the season including an outright and it would have been six if not for rain. Where there any of those in particular that stood out as matches that set the tone for what you could achieve?

Beating Sydney Uni and Randwick, two traditionally strong clubs, in the first two rounds gave the team real belief. But I would have to say the dominant outright victory against Gordon really showed me and our senior players that we were going to give the comp a real shake. Having Hulston and Tupper open the bowling in that game (they took 14 of the wickets) gave me an insight into what might be possible if that opening partnership could fire together. However they weren't to play together again until the semi final last week when they renewed their successful partnership, I hope they make it 3 outrights from 3 games this weekend.

You lost two of three after that and at another stage lost two in a row... Were there points where you thought you might have already peaked?

Lower grade teams inevitably go through lean periods in a season as injury and unavailability hits the club in general, so you should never panic if you go through a bit of a lean patch - you just have to know that other clubs are going to have the same problem and take your opportunities when they come. It was through this period that Chowdhury really stepped up and earnt his most improved player award for the club. He led our attack and I always knew during this period that if we could put some half decent batting performances together we could still win games. Luckily we managed to do this to break a couple of bad runs.

Is there a game that stands out as a turning point in the season?

I'd have to say the tie against NDs (my first tie in 16 years of grade cricket) really gave us a bit of a kick start towards the finals. It might sound like a basketball game at 98 all but to defend a score of under 100 really gave us the belief that would help us later in the season in tight situations like the qualifying final. It was great for our youngest player Sam Pointer to back himself and take that final wicket with a doosra, although his reaction to it left a little to be desired.

Are there a couple of standout individual performances that come to mind?

Our season really has been built around our bowling attack and having 4 bowlers take over 30 wickets is testament to that. However I must say the best individual performances of the year were the 2 partnerships of 149 between Bryant (106) and Remond (133) at St George and 179 in the qualifying final between Brooks (90) and Pointer (91). All 4 of them being under 20 bodes well for the club in the years to come.

You've had the same few guys in the core of your team for the season, but there are a couple you've had to leave out. Explain the emotions of leaving guys out who have performed for you at stages?

Definitely the least enjoyable part of being a captain but part of the job none the less. The likes of Quinn, Maxwell, Kurien and Legget all played big parts throughout the season and are as big a part of the team as any of the players that actually get on the field in the finals. I also really feel for Nav who injured himself in the QF but with 36 wickets at 9 for the season for us I hope he knows we would not be where we are without him.  Personally having missed out on the last 4th grade premiership back in 1999 due to similar selection issues I know how they feel and hope they use it drive them in seasons to come, I just pray in doesn't take them 15 years to make another GF!

Its fair to say Manly won pretty comfortably when you played them. What do you remember about that game? Why will it be different this time?

Yeah they did chase our 217 pretty easily that day. It was actually our 3rd highest score for the season which does give us a bit of belief that our batsmen should be able to perform against their attack. There are only 4 of our players from that game that will be there on the weekend so its a fairly different team and the self belief that we have built especially over the last 4 straight victories will put us in good stead to turn that result around. It also helps that their batsman that tore us apart that day went back up to 2nd grade where he stayed for the rest of the year!

What's the biggest motivation for you to win a premiership?

Purely selfish this one I've never won a Sydney grade premiership and I'm not getting any younger or less bald so I think its about time!

What's been most pleasing about your two finals wins?

Our ability to get out of a couple of tight situations, being 5 for 39 in the QF and getting to a defendable total showed great character, and at 6 for 96 chasing 114 we still had a lot of work to do in the semi. So whilst you can probably say our bowling won both games there were a few key batting partnerships that allowed our bowlers to get the job done. With a bit of luck some of our bats are due this weekend and the skipper can have a slightly less stressful time on the sidelines. Another pleasing aspect has been the standard of Sunday night circuiting after our victories.

Team spirit is always key in successful teams... Who have been the real character that make the side what it is?

Well I can't really go past the 2014 Sandpit Player of the Year David Dunne. Lite Whitening always creates a laugh in the dressing room and is generally short priced favourite for "The Shirt" that is awarded to the stupidest comment or act of each days cricket. But with the likes of Eriksson, Shackman, Macdonald and Maxwell in the side we are never short of good and bad bant that ensures we don't take ourselves too seriously. 

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