by callum dick
RECENT history means nothing to Laidley Bluedogs coach Craig Jesberg, ahead of tomorrow's Harding-Madsen Shield grand final against Toowoomba powerhouse Western Suburbs.
The Bluedogs shocked the inaugural inter-city competition winners with an eight-wicket win in the opening round of the season, and thus Wests veteran Brian May labelled Laidley favourites in the decider.
But Jesberg was having none of it.
"They won it last year, they're the holders so I would say they're the favourites,” the Laidley coach said. "They've already won it we haven't, and until we get our hands on it it's up to us to take it off them.
"It'll be a good game.”
Key to the Bluedogs' win in October was dismissing May cheaply.
Jesberg said it was not realistic to expect the same to happen again tomorrow, but the Bluedogs would go in with a gameplan he is confident will stand up to the rigours of finals cricket.
"What we know about Wests is they rely on Brian - he knows that, and we know that,” Jesberg said.
"We know we have to put the pressure on those batting around him. They depend on him to stick around in the middle; it's been the same with every team he's played on.”
Key to Laidley's unbeaten start to the 2017-18 season has been their ability to win the close contests as consistently as the blow outs.
Jesberg put that down to having an experienced group, which has played in numerous finals together and is prepared for whatever situation confronts them at Baxter Oval.
"We have a very experienced side with a lot of winners,” Jesberg said.
"We're good grinders; no matter the situation, we seem to be able to get ourselves out of it.
"Our bowlers have dug us out of holes when we've needed them to, and our batters have done the same. That's what we're good at.”
With a potent group of spinners to spell the quicks, and a batting line-up that runs deep, Jesberg has every faith the Bluedogs can claim the first silverware up for grabs in 2018.
"In a final like this, it's all about the key moments in the game and which people stand up and take control,” he said.
"No matter if you're 4/30 or 2/250, you keep going.
"(To win) you need one of your top four to bat through to the 40th, 45th over.
"We have the guys in the tail that can hit as well. Ideally, that's what you'd love every single game. Then it becomes easier.”
Jesberg said that was "a lot of respect” between the two sides heading into tomorrow's clash.
"We've played a lot of trial games against each other over the last five years and gotten to know each other pretty well,” he said. "There's a lot of respect there.”