HE’S the boy from Wickliffe making a name for himself in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA).
Wesley-CBC all-rounder Joe Higgins has been one of the catalysts behind the transformation of the Beavers from WDCA battler to giant-killer.
The Andrew Cheeseman-captained side upstaged Dennington by 48 runs to take its season’s record to 2-1 after three rounds.
Matches against Nirranda today and Port Fairy next weekend, both at home, means it could realistically have a 4-1 record by Christmas.
The rise of the Beavers has co-incided with the form of Higgins, 22, who is in the midst of the best of his three seasons at the club.
He made 44 not out and took 4-18 to spearhead the upset of the Dogs. His season’s stats read 158 runs and nine wickets across all formats.
Higgins grew up at Wickliffe and honed his craft at Dunkeld-based club Grampians while he attended school at Monivae College at Hamilton.
University mates prompted him to join Wesley-CBC when he shifted to Warrnambool to study commerce.
He put his promising form down to a better pre-season and moving up the order.
As for the Beavers’ improvement, Higgins said experience had played an understated role.
“If we get the next two wins, we could go 4-1 and that’d set us up for the season. We’ve got Nirranda and Port Fairy next,” he said.
“Everyone has got a year older, a bit more calm with the bat. We’re not going out there swinging the bat.”
Higgins also praised the influence of Cheeseman. The skipper is enjoying a stellar campaign in both one-day and Twenty20 matches.
He carried his bat in making 76 not out a fortnight ago and has 278 runs in all formats, failing to reach 20 just twice.
“The way he’s been performing on the field calms everyone else down. We’ve got the rock at the top of the order,” Higgins said.
But there are others sharing the load at Wesley-CBC, which is perhaps the most encouraging aspect of its start to the season.
Batsman Ryan McArdle has failed at the crease just twice in six trips, while young paceman Tom Bowman has not put a foot wrong.
“I would like to think (finals are a possibility), but you’ve got to wait until the end of the season to see that,” Higgins said.
In other Merri conference matches, unbeaten West Warrnambool takes on Dennington at Davidson Oval in the match of the round and Port Fairy hosts Nestles at Avery’s Paddock, with the Factory still chasing their first win.
Merrivale plays Woodford at Merrivale Recreation Reserve in the pick of the Hopkins conference action.
They are among four sides with 2-1 records, with the weekend likely to ease congestion at the top.
Brierly-Christ Church meets East Warrnambool-YCW at Brierly and Allansford faces Russells Creek at Uebergang Oval.