GCA will hold its own at Bendigo Country Week, says Bant

GRASSMERE Cricket Association captain Chris Bant is confident the representative side will hold its own at Bendigo Country Week.

Bant will captain Grass-mere as it chases division three glory at the five-day tournament, which gets under way on Monday.

The side had a final training session at Wangoom Recreation Reserve on Wednesday and will leave for the goldfields city tomorrow.

Grassmere will play Maryborough at Golden Square first up. Its other matches are against Northern District Colts, Red Cliffs and Grampians.

Bant said he believed the side was stronger than the one which lifted Grassmere to a runner-up finish in the division last year.

“It’s a pretty strong side, I think,” he said.

‘‘We’ve had a couple pull out the last week but there are players there who can do the job.

“It’s the first year we’ve had to cut a few out of the squad, which is always a good sign.

“There’s just a good mix (of players). 

‘‘We’ve got some good top-order bats but plenty of depth in the bowling as well.

“We’ll be trying to make sure we’re there (in the grand final) on Friday but we’ll see what we can do.” 

This year marks the second time Grassmere has contested Bendigo Country Week, after a successful debut in 2013.

Grassmere was a regular at Melbourne Country Week but officials pulled out the side after years struggling in the lower divisions.

It sought to revive representative cricket by entering the Bendigo tournament last year, with players responding well.

Bant said team unity would be a strength of the side.

“The training the other night, you would’ve thought it was a club training,” he said.

“Everyone knows everyone pretty well and are pretty good mates. 

‘‘Gelling together won’t be an issue.”

The Grassmere squad is headlined by James McKinnon (Panmure) and Aaron Peterson (Purnim), who will lead a depth-laden batting attack.

Bant (Panmure), Brett Tory (Wangoom), Braden Hotker (Grassmere) and Murray Habel (Hawkesdale) are also capable run makers.

Luke Ryan (Purnim) and Jason Alberts (Yambuk) are the new-ball options while Tory can bowl spin.

But the bowling stocks have already suffered a blow, with paceman Kevin McElgunn (Yambuk) breaking a toe at training.

Jason Elliott (Hawkesdale) is the replacement, joining Ben Julius and Brian Wilson (both Yambuk) as late call ups.

Team manager Norm Gibson said McElgunn was disappointed he couldn’t make the trip.

“He rang me (on Thursday) at half past six,” he said this week. 

I saw him on the ground on Wednesday and thought ‘yeah he’s been hit with a yorker’.

“Apparently the doctors told him he had a broken toe. 

‘‘He was really looking forward to coming but I said ‘there’s always next year’.”

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