MT CLEAR director of coaching Paull Jeffrey is confident his side can bounce back from a heavy defeat against reigning champions Wendouree when the Ballarat Cricket Association club firsts finals series gets under way this weekend.
The Mounties were ousted for just 47 in the last day of the home-and-away season on Saturday, but get their chance for redemption when the two teams meet again in a knockout semi-final at Eastern Oval.
Jeffrey, who made an unbeaten 32 in Mt Clear’s second innings, said the fourth-placed Mounties had beaten the minor premiers twice already this season, including once in the Twenty20 grand final.
“Obviously we are going to be underdogs and that’s great, but everyone has got two arms and two legs and cricket is a funny game,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey said a “terrible” Wendouree pitch was partially to blame for his team’s dismal performance, pointing to a slanted surface and a lead-up week of heavy rain as factors in its low first innings total.
“It needs fixing, that end wicket. For sure,” he said.
“The umpires said the same thing. They were quite embarrassed by it.
“We are just dismissing the day. It was just not good for batting. A few blokes should have dug in a little bit more, however it was difficult.
“On a good wicket at Eastern Oval we are looking for a lot better showing.
“Our best two bowlers weren’t playing so we’ve got some big upside there.”
Jeffrey is talking about EJ Cleary Medal winner Daniel Hopkinson and spinner Steve Nicholson, who were unavailable for the match but will return for the semi-final clash.
“Hopkinson is probably the best bowler in the competition and he’s capable of winning a game himself,” Jeffrey said.
The other semi-final will be played between back-to-back grand finalists Napoleons-Sebastopol, which beat North Ballarat on the weekend, and Darley, which jumped to third with victory over Coronet City.
The second-versus-third clash will be played at Wendouree.