A CONCERTED effort to become a Bendigo Country Week powerhouse is reaping rewards for the Grassmere Cricket Association (GCA).
Last season the GCA claimed just one win for the week in division two, a result coach Steve Blacker said had brought with it a steely resolve.
“There was a bit of disappointment around the country week performance last year,” Blacker said.
“We made sure we had 12 of the best 16 players in the competition available and some other really good players around them to give us the depth we needed.”
It has proven to be a sound plan, with the GCA division two team winning its way through to Friday’s final.
The GCA finished on top of the ladder, with a perfect record from its four games.
Its opponent in the final will be Colac and District, a team it will be very familiar with.
In its last qualifying game on Thursday, the GCA defeated Colac and District by five wickets.
The win was done without a number of key players, with injury hitting the GCA hard.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Blacker missed with a twisted knee, while pacemen Nathan Shand (calf) and Brayden Buchanan (hamstring) were also absent.
Hawkesdale’s Lachie Glare was unavailable, having gone back home for work commitments.
Opening batsman Richard McKellar returned to the team, having injured a calf earlier in the week.
“My knee should be okay, Shand is a chance, Buchanan is 50-50 and we aren’t sure about Glare yet,” Blacker said.
A bye for the division three team on Thursday was timely, with Tyson Umbers, Brian Wilson, Matt Boyle and Rhys Dews getting the call up to division two to replace those unavailable.
Umbers was the best performed of the promoted players, with the Yambuk captain taking 4-16.
It is this depth that has Blacker happy with his team’s standing.
“The result shows the depth we have in our squad and how important that is,” he said.
“We have had bowlers step up all week and at least one batsman a day has held things together.
“It highlights the depth of the association, there are some really good cricketers.”
While games over the week have been 50 overs per team, a decision has been made to reduce the final to 35 overs each.
This decision has been made in response to a forecast of 44 in Bendigo today.
“The hottest part of the day up here is from 3-8pm so playing most of the game in the morning makes sense,” Blacker said.