Wagga RSL’s chances of moving into the top four for the first time all season have been dealt two big blows.
Spearhead Nick Grant and rising star Josh Staines will both miss Saturday’s clash with South Wagga at Wagga Cricket Ground.
The pair are away on holidays despite the Wagga cricket competition having an elongated break over the Christmas period.
Captain James Richards said it was far from ideal coming into the clash with a team who are yet to lose a competition match.
“We wonder why we can’t win games but can never get out full team on the paddock,” Richards said.
“They are both Riverina players.
“It is a fair chunk out of your side with your best batter and your best bowler.”
The Blues have only tasted defeat once this season, in their last outing against Kooringal Colts in the one-day final.
It has been a long time before matches in the rain-affected Wagga cricket season.
The Bulldogs haven’t played since their lone win of the season against St Michaels on November 25.
The last round on December 2 and 3 was then washed out.
The timing is what has left Richards frustrated the most by the forces changes.
“We haven’t played in six weeks and then we go to play a game of cricket and blokes decide to go away on holidays,” he said.
“Josh is a little different as he’s only 16 and his parents are going away.”
Todd Henderson is expected to take the wicketkeeper’s gloves in Staines’ absence.
Tim Cameron also returns for his first match in the top grade this season.
South Wagga scored a big win when the two teams met earlier.
The Blues coasted 123-run victory after finishing at 6-220 but Richards believes his team will be better suited in the longer format of the game.
“They beat us last time pretty convincingly but hopefully our two-day cricket is a lot better than our one-day cricket,” he said.
“We have a good bowling attack which we can use a lot better in two-day cricket than one-day cricket.
“In one-dayers you can only bowl the eight overs and have to share it around while two-game cricket you can use the stronger attack and bowl as many overs as you want.
The Bulldogs have only won one match so far but sit only two points behind Wagga City in the congested ladder.
They also held on for a remarkable draw in the corresponding fixture last season.