After just three rounds of the 2017-18 season, new Ghosts captain Jarrad Burke looks like he could be on the way to winning a second O’Reilly Medal.
The first time Burke won grade cricket’s highest accolade was a very long time ago – the 2004-05 season.
As it happens, he was playing for Campbelltown Camden that season, which means he is still the only Ghosts player to win the honour since the club started playing in the top grade 31 years ago.
Burke left the Ghosts for greener pastures but has returned this season to provide much needed leadership, experience and maturity to a young side.
To the delight of the club, Burke has been doing all that and much more besides.
He has taken bags of wickets (14) and scored a stack of runs (187) to help the Ghosts to fourth spot on the ladder.
When Burke addressed the team in the rooms after Saturday’s drawn match against the Sydney Tigers he did so with a great deal of satisfaction, reports JASON ELLSBERG.
Chasing last week’s Sydney total of 9 dec for 363, the Ghosts top order found the conditions slightly different for the first 90 minutes yet managed to get away to a good start before losing opener Aaron Yabsley leg before wicket for 32.
His fellow opening partner Mitchell Carruthers (20 runs) departed minutes later.
Number 3 bat Phillip Wells looked set for another dominating innings with some well placed shots dissecting the field before he was bowled for 20.
Jaydyn Simmons soon followed, unlucky to be dismissed early, leg before wicket.
The top order collapse continued when Englishman Ollie Pope was caught leg before by a turning delivery with 12 beside his name.
However, the young English wicketkeeper batsman did enough in his cameo appearance at the crease to suggest there is a lot of quality batting to come from him this summer.
The Ghosts were now 5-97 looking at an enormous challenge to avoid defeat.
Enter the skipper, Burke, where he remained until stumps and together with Jordan Browne the Ghosts rear guard action began.
The two of them put on exactly 100 runs as respectability and a chance of victory became a possibility.
The Raby wicket had now flattened out.
Browne was finally dismissed for a gutsy 53 runs with a back-foot cover drive to the fence being a highlight of his patient innings.
This now left skipper Burke with the back end of the Ghosts order which included three NSW under 19 reps and his fast bowling all-rounder Luke Webb.
Young leg spinner Nathan Baker was the first to join his skipper, immediately playing positively and aggressively.
Baker was dismissed scoring 35 of the 43 runs he put on with Burke.
As the required run rate for victory increased, Burke and Webb began shutting out the frustrated Sydney attack who threw everything at them.
But Burke and Webb remained resilient, completely nullifying the Tigers attack for almost 90 minutes to obtain a rewarding draw given the Ghosts earlier lunch time position.
Burke finished unbeaten on 87 runs adding to his 4 wickets in the Sydney innings.
The skipper selflessly denied himself a century refusing to take risks running between wickets and playing patiently as the Tiger’s quicks fired up for the last hour with a new ball.
Meanwhile Webb defended the spin from the other end with a crowd of fieldsmen around him verbally reminding him of the pressure he was under.
Webb finished 10 not out having faced 62 balls.
Second grade – Sydney 6 dec 331 Campbelltown Camden 10/146 & 3/145 Josh Appleton 3/66; Pat O’Neill 2/103; Nathan Glynn 61; Ben Bourke 49 & 72 not out; Nick Appleton 25;
Third grade – Campbelltown-Camden 10/87 Sydney 5/96 Lachlan Inger 3/24; Match abandoned.
Fourth grade – Sydney 9 dec 104 Campbelltown Camden 10/186 & 8116 Quin Passlow 79 not out & 30; Josh Campbell 33 & 46; Roscoe Ray 27; Trent Mayer 3/61; Ashkat Mishra 2/67.
Fifth grade – Sydney 9/242 Campbelltown Camden 10/165 Sufyan Khan 5/65; Sriram Mohan 3/51; Kodie Brien 33; Luke Miner 25*.