IT is crunch time for Central Highlands representative cricketers with a crucial test against Biloela on Sunday.
The battlers face a must-win match against the highly fancied Gladstone outfit early next year, if they have any chance of making the Central Queensland finals' fixtures.
The Highlanders are running off a tough first-round loss to Rockhampton last month, summarily dismissed for just 120 runs on a challenging turf wicket.
"We're playing for a bit of pride," CH captain Chris O'Shea said.
Patience, he said, would be their virtue heading into the competition's closing stages, with Tony Linklator leading the charge.
The Springsure batsman rescued the Highlands from a worrying 6/18 at one stage of their last encounter with Rockhampton.
"Tony showed if you're patient you can get there," O'Shea said.
While the Biloela cricketers are not expected to be as tough as their coastal counterparts, O'Shea said they are a side not to be underestimated nonetheless.
"They play at a similar level to us," he said.
"They're definitely going through a bit of a rebuilding phase."
A welcome addition to the CH line-up this weekend is Emerald all-rounder Nev Suell.
Suell, who made a tidy 43 for Magpies last Saturday, will make his long-awaited return to representative cricket alongside Blackwater batsman Reg Parker.
It's good news for the Highlanders, who will need every advantage when they face Gladstone in January.
"Gladstone is really strong," O'Shea said.
"They've recruited a few players from Brisbane this year.
"We've really got our work cut out."
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