WHO'D have thought Merrivale would be able to let star all-rounder Josh Stapleton simply focus on batting in 2021-22 and finish on top of the ladder?
The Tigers have found a wealth of bowling depth and as captain-coach Justin Lynch quips, are comfortable throwing the ball to just about anyone.
Merrivale's simple strategy - bowling tight line and length and defending often with a variation of a ring field - has been a feature of its success.
The emergence of strong form in players like Marcus Bunney, Mark Jones, Jarrod Petherick and spinners in Ryan and Hugh Fleming has also worked wonders.
If one bowler is off then someone else gets their chance and that's something I've got up my sleeve.- Justin Lynch
"I think the only person who probably can't bowl is myself," Lynch laughed.
"Theo (Opperman) can bowl a little bit. Maybe Pearso (Danny Pearson) but even Pearso can turn it.
"If one bowler is off then someone else gets their chance and that's something I've got up my sleeve."
Stapleton, who has previously taken several overs each week, has bowled just 29 in 2021-22 compared to 147 in 2020-21.
The Tigers also lost opener Sean Fary after he moved north but their depth has steadied the ship.
Lynch said he'd been delighted with his players' efforts throughout the campaign but was under no illusions his side had improvement left in the tank.
"If someone said to me Josh Stapleton would miss three games and you'd win all three, I'd have just said 'yeah, rightio'," he said.
"Every club has their best player and we missed ours over a few games. It made our blokes believe."
Merrivale will play North Warrnambool Eels in Saturday's semi-final at a ground to be confirmed.
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