Sutherland may be the surprise packet of the competition so far – but not to captain Chris Williams.
Sutherland have entered the Christmas break in the NSW Premier Cricket first grade competition in second place on the table with leaders Campbelltown-Camden (38) only two points above Sutherland after eight rounds.
Having lost just twice and won their last five matches in a row Sutherland have surprised most of the rest of the competition. Strong victories over heavyweights Eastern Suburbs and Manly-Warringah as well as winning the Norm O’Neill Cup back from local rivals St George in dominant fashion has put others on notice, with Sutherland also reaching the Twenty20 Cup finals.
But it is a good mix of talented youngsters and experienced players that has helped Sutherland build a solid platform as they chase a return to finals cricket in the second half of the season.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise to us,” Williams said.
“It has been a whole team contribution. All our batsmen have scored runs at some time. Our wickets have generally been shared between our bowlers and that has been the reason we’ve been successful. If someone has had an off day then someone else has stepped up to cover it.
“Teams probably don’t look at us as having an out and out superstar or the best batsman in the world or the world’s best fast bowler. But we’ve got guys who know their role, they’re consistent, they build pressure and they support each other. And they know what they’re capable of.
“A lot of the guys played [Poidevin-Gray Shield under-21s cricket] together and won those competitions. Obviously the young guys have had success together and grown up playing together. They’re all very tight and I think we’re seeing the fruit of that in first grade now.
“They all want to play together and enjoy playing together. It’s a good, fun environment to be around and when the situations are tight they want to play for each other.”
The challenge for Sutherland now is to kick on in the second half of the season to ensure they return to the finals after missing out in 2016-17.
Sutherland return to action on January 6 when they travel north of the bridge to face North Sydney. They then face a trio of tough two-day matches against finals chasing opposition in Randwick Petersham, Bankstown and Western Suburbs.
“They obviously don’t hand out trophies at the halfway point of the year,” Williams said.
“Now obviously it’s up to us to keep that momentum going. We’ll come back refreshed after a couple of weeks off and look to come home strongly into the finals.
“We’re trying to not get ahead of ourselves and just keep doing what we’re doing. Creating pressure and doing all the little things at 100 per cent.
“We know how important momentum is and we know the job is only half done.”