SOMETIMES the pain is worth it in the end.
Port Macquarie Pirates didn’t win a single match in the Mid North Coast Premier Cricket League last season, but on Saturday they made it two from two at Taree.
In the process, they moved into second spot on the table on percentages.
Captain Ben Woodward won the toss and elected to bat as Pirates batted out their overs and made a respectable 8-193.
There were contributions all the way down the batting order before teenage off-spinner Connor Cook claimed 5-19 as Taree were rolled for 121.
When asked what had changed from last year, Woodward put it simply down to experience.
“We’ve learned the lessons from last season,” he said.
“The main thing is the importance of batting in partnerships; we’ve avoided any major collapses so far after wickets have fallen.”
The captain said with another off-season under their belts, the Pirates young brigade – led by Cook, along with Tom Connolly and Jared Humphreys – have been able to develop their games quickly.
“I’m not surprised at the improvements they’ve made in their games,” he said.
The addition of a couple of new faces in the top order has helped take some of the pressure off the Pirates juniors.
Damian Kulmar and Marty Moate have provided some stability that had been lacking with the bat.
“Having Damian open the batting and Marty didn’t play last week, but he did well in the first game so they’ve both been really good for us,” Woodward said.
“They’re good leaders to have around the group.”
Now Woodward is faced with the task of keeping his team’s feet on the ground; in recent seasons Pirates have struggled, not just last season.
“The main thing is focusing on what’s in front of us,” he said.
“There’s enough sense there not to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
The challenge now is for Pirates to consistently be playing their best cricket for the majority of the season.
“One thing where teams can get stuck is when you’re winning you tend not to focus on the things you can improve on,” Woodward said.
“We don’t want to become stagnant or over-confident either because there are always areas we can do better.”
The Pirates captain was confident their positive start wouldn’t be a “flash in the pan.”
“With last season being a tough one, I think there’s a bit of resilience around the group,” he said.
“So if there was to be a setback at any point, that’s something we can bounce back from.”
In other matches around the competition, Wauchope RSL held on to claim a 13-run win over Rovers while Taree United accounted for Macquarie by 184 runs.
At Oxley Oval, Wingham snuck home by one wicket over Port City Leagues Magpies, chasing down 131 for the loss of nine wickets.
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