JACOB Branch will always call Napoleons-Sebastopol home.
The all-rounder is this season back at the club after a successful two-year journey with Linton in the Grenville Cricket Association.
Branch’s time away from Naps-Sebas reaped a premiership before he was lured back to play under the guidance of captain-coach Dan Davies.
The 27-year-old said the stint had allowed him to freshen-up and get away from the high demands of Ballarat’s club firsts competition.
“I wasn’t going to play and was going to have a year off, but I got talked into having a bit of a bash and crash after Christmas in the first year,” Branch recalled.
“I couldn’t commit to with work to playing A-grade cricket with two nights of training.
“I really got back to just enjoying cricket again. I had played A-grade cricket since I was 15-years-old – 10 years straight – and I had just got married that year so it was more because of work and lifestyle.”
Branch, a financial planner, said playing for Linton had been enjoyable and didn’t believe the lower standard of competition had been detrimental to his game.
“I think mentally you do drop off a little bit. Most teams (in the Grenville CA) have got two or three good players and then it just drops off. In Ballarat, you have got five or six really good players,” he said.
“As far as my cricket goes, I still put the work in now and I don’t think it has dropped off at all. If anything, it has probably changed my bowling because I’ve gone from bowling on turf all my career to playing on carpet for a couple of years. It’s a lot skinnier and, especially bowling offies, there’s not much room for error.”
Branch, who has represented both Ballarat and the Central Highlands during his career, has had a steady start to the 2012-13 campaign, but will be hoping to improve on his 49 runs and five wickets from the first half of the season.
An under-16 and third eleven premiership player with Naps-Sebas, Branch said matching ladder-leaders Wendouree would be tough this season, but had confidence in the club’s ability to clinch a first eleven flag in the near future.
“I’ll back our kids in the next couple of years to take the next step up,” he said.