CAPTAIN Chris Hopper has defended the 11th-hour decision to demote Horsham to the second tier of the Western Waves Festival of Cricket.
Hopper steered his side to a 78-run win over Hamilton and District Cricket Association (HDCA) in the division two final at Clem Young Oval in Hamilton yesterday.
The triumph came after Horsham dropped from division one to division two after an exodus of top players on Thursday night.
Hopper said the decision was made for sound reasons, adamant his undermanned side would not have been competitive in the top grade.
“This year we started our planning early for the carnival and the response from all the clubs was really good,” he said.
“We thought we would have a really competitive team. (But) there were a lot of late withdrawals. We eventually scraped up 11 and that included our manager. We got a team down here. It’s been good.
“Our strongest team would compete in division one, there’s no worries there. But we haven’t got the depth of guys making themselves available.”
Hopper said he hoped the win would generate renewed interest among Horsham cricketers for next season.
The Horsham Cricket Association is the likely host of the 2014 Festival of Cricket given the tournament will move to the north of the region.
“We needed to get down here. I was worried we weren’t going to get a team down here at all. That was the first priority,” Hopper said.
“The timing probably hurt with school exams. We’ve got three or four promising young 18-year-olds and they’re the blokes you want down here.
“Hopefully we can get it together.” Hopper was instrumental in setting up Horsham’s victory with an unbeaten 40 batting at number five.
Jason Templeton made 47 and Ben Peucker reached 24 as Horsham reached 6-147 batting first.
HDCA was never in the hunt after openers Stephen Field (13) and Jamie Logan (29) departed.
No other batsman reached double figures as the side slumped to 7-69.
Damien Bunworth took 3-10.
“We found (on Saturday) scores from 130 to 160 were generally winning,” Hopper said. “We’re probably a bowling-strong team. We thought if we could scrape together 140 we were confident of defending that.
“They’re very young, Hamilton, and that’s good to see. But the younger guys, if you get a bit of scoreboard pressure on you, it can dictate terms.”