FINALS aspirant Grassmere looks like paying a heavy price for its tight win on Saturday, with star bowler Ben Clark sidelined indefinitely.
Clark, who was away on holidays for the first day of the A grade match against Panmure Pups, fulfilled his duties as 12th man bowler on Saturday, grabbing a match-winning 4-13 as the Meerkats claimed a 32-run triumph.
But Clark suffered a finger injury while taking a return catch to dismiss Isaac Hose for a duck.
Captain Chris Lenehan said Clark’s finger nail was lifted and on the advice of doctors had surgery yesterday.
“They were worried about infection and wanted to operate,” he said. “That could be his season.”
Lenehan said Clark had been pivotal for the Meerkats, taking 14 wickets at an average of 18 this season.
“He’s been our opening bowling for the last three years. ”
The injury took the gloss off Grassmere’s win as it tightened a hold on fourth spot.
Resuming at 4-49 chasing Grassmere’s 125 the Pups, after a stubborn 23-run partnership from Mark Roberts (20) and Ken Jones (11), looked capable of an upset.
They denied the Meerkats for almost an hour at the start of play before Jones was dismissed by Clark.
That was the opening Grassmere needed, taking 5-21 to seal the victory.
Lenehan stopped short of claiming his side could start thinking about finals with two matches remaining.
“Just about,” he said of whether the Meerkats had stitched up a finals berth.
They face arch rival Purnim (sixth) next Saturday before clashing with top side Killarney in the final round.
The Meerkats are now 15 points clear of fifth-placed Hawkesdale, which lost to Killarney.
Resuming at 0-20, the Crabs achieved their victory target of 125 before declaring at 6-143. The Cats then rattled on 55 without loss in 15 overs.
Purnim pushed second-placed Panmure Bulldogs to the brink before going down.
With Bulls opening bowler Symon Wilde taking 5-63 off 23 overs, the Bulldogs had to scrap to get the points, finishing at 9-193.
Third-placed Yambuk (9-235) stitched up its finals berth with a 63-run win over Wangoom Roosters, which was bundled out for 172 after Dan Oakley took 5-30.