REIGNING cricketer of the year Jayaweera Bandara is predicting a low, tight count when the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association crowns its best performer tonight.
The Russells Creek batsman has emphatically ruled out a repeat of his popular win in the award after a “shocking” season.
He said no player had consistently stood out this season, making for an enthralling count tonight at Warrnambool Bowls Club.
“Anyone could win it this year,” he said.
“A lot of people have had a very quiet year. Karl Turner from West Warrnambool got a few big scores, but I don’t know.
“It will be a low total that wins. There’s a few people who have played two or three games.”
Bandara, who missed a couple of matches while supporting his son playing at state level, said the new conference system made it difficult to assess the form of rival players he hadn’t faced during the season.
But he said he expected the award to go to an all-rounder.
Turner, West Warrnambool’s English import, made 668 runs at an average of 74.2, including one double century, a century and four half-centuries. But 448 of those runs came in two matches.
Nathan Murphy is likely to lead Brierly-Christ Church’s voting after making the second-highest number of runs for the season — 440 at an average of 62.9 — and taking eight wickets at an average of 23.9.
Nirranda’s Jay Wynd was another prolific run-scorer with 414 at 37.6.
Allansford skipper Kyall Timms fits Bandara’s all-rounder theory. He scored an uncharacteristically low 215 runs at 26.9 but compensated with 32 wickets at 12.8. He looks the Gators’ best chance.
Skipper Dustin Drew is likely to be Dennington’s best hope with 331 runs and seven wickets, although wicketkeeper-batsman Daminda Ranaweera scored more runs.
Defending premier Merrivale’s English import Zashan Arshad could be the Tigers’ best hope after 26 wickets, while hard-hitting batsman Josh Stapleton could also figure in the voting.
Woodford’s philosophy of even contributors will most likely result in a number of players polling, with Jake McKinnon and Nic Butters the Eels’ best hopes.
Nestles will be looking to someone other than co-coach Brett Eldridge to get the votes after illness cruelled his season, with all-rounder Geoff Williams an outside chance, while Wesley-CBC’s Joe Higgins could be a smoky after a solid year with both bat and ball.