ASK Nick Blacker if he'd be Wesley Yambuk's first choice wicketkeeper 12 months ago and he'd say you're joking.
But here he is. The 17-year-old has taken the gloves and held down number four in a season dubbed the Beavers' best in more than a decade.
Blacker has played a key role in the Walter Oval-based club's rise to its first semi-final in five years which has come on the back of an eight-win campaign.
Wesley Yambuk will play Russells Creek on Saturday in a bid to book a place in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association decider.
While he admitted donning the gloves had been a learning curve, he's embraced the role and the challenges which come with it.
It was a bit of a surprise when 'Munge' (coach Jason Mungean) came up to me at the start of the year and said 'you're going to bat seven and you're going to keep.- Nick Blacker
"It was a bit of a surprise when 'Munge' (coach Jason Mungean) came up to me at the start of the year and said 'you're going to bat seven and you're going to keep," Blacker said.
"I was really surprised. I said 'righto, if that's what you want, I'll do it'. The boys have been really good. Obviously I'm not the best 'keeper because it's my first year doing it in seniors.
"The boys have been really supportive, keeping me up and about. I'm just doing my best each week trying to improve."
Blacker said he'd spent hours at training honing his craft.
"It's a hard job and since I haven't grown up doing it, it's been about learning on the fly," he said.
"I've been learning from my experiences which is really good. You've just got to be focused because they could snick it at any point, especially keeping up to the stumps. I'm up probably 30 overs of the game.
"I've really got to be switched on, looking to take those half-chances."
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While he started batting at seven, a mid-season switch with fellow youngster Walker Owen to number four has proven fruitful.
"I feel like I've really found my confidence, because at the start of the year I probably lacked a bit of that," he said.
"I'm batting at four now. I think the switched has worked well because Walker has come in at seven and he's been doing well. He's got some really important 30s and made them fast.
"I've been able to come in and just steady things a little bit. After Christmas I've been able to come in and just bat there which has been good."
Blacker praised Mungean for providing reward and said the boost up the order had lifted his belief.
He added the tonic to beating Creek - the association's benchmark over the past five seasons - was rooted in "simple cricket".
"That's sort of what we've been trying to do all year," Blacker said.
"Bowl dot balls - you don't have to try to get that wicket ball - building pressure and then the key thing in finals is taking chances when they come.
"You've got to be on the ball straight away. As a batting unit, we need to just build partnerships. No low scores and just everybody chip away and contribute."
The match, scheduled for Uebergang Oval, will begin at 12.30pm.
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