AFTER six seasons in the finals wilderness, South Perth has finally reached WA’s Premier Cricket top six.
Only time will tell what impact the Sky Blues can have on the remainder of the campaign, however that winning feeling has returned to Richardson Park.
The last time seven-time premiers South Perth made the semi-finals was back in 2011 and only Hugh Brown remains from that side, with fresh faces – many from the title-winning 2012-13 colts side – and a new coach reinvigorating the struggling club.
Trent Ovens is another Sky Blues veteran, the top-order batsman believes more experience and some key inclusions have been the catalyst for the meteoric rise.
“I think we have just had some growth from our younger players,” he said.
“Darius D’Silva, Sam Birchall and Simon Ringrose have just got a year older and a year better.
“We have managed to add a couple of players in the off season, like our overseas Rob Jones from England, who has been fantastic along with Michael Bailey from Gosnells.
Brett Mulder as coach is the other major change to the set-up, with the former state cricketer taking a different approach to previous mentors at South Perth.
“(Mulder) brings a level of intensity to training and really makes us focus on fielding,” Ovens said.
“Come game day though, he just lets us get on with playing. His experience in the game is invaluable.”
For Ovens, it will be his first finals appearance for the Sky Blues, with the older players looking forward to the challenge of finals cricket after several years of disappointment
“It’s extremely exciting,” Ovens said.
“I have played in a lot of teams who have finished down the bottom over the years, so it will be good to get out there and play at the pointy end of the season.
“It’s great for the club and great for the older guys like me and Hugh Brown, it has been a while since we have played finals.”
With a lack of finals experience, South Perth will have their backs against the wall against quality opposition, with Ovens believing there is plenty to gain for everyone involved.
“The best thing for the young guys if we play the likes of Claremont, Freo or Joondalup is to just watch their class players down the lists,” he said.
“Just to watch them play and experience playing in those games against those players, you can only learn from that.”
Despite the obvious difficulty that comes with finishing in the lower half of the top six, the Sky Blues believe they can have an impact, much like Fremantle, who made the grand final from sixth last season.
“We wouldn’t rock up if we didn’t think we could win,” Ovens said.
“It’s 11 against 11 and anything can happen; we will give it our best.”