THERE are two leading contenders in the race for Ballarat Cricket Association’s highest individual honour.
Brown Hill paceman Matt McMahon and Darley all-rounder Matt Cape can both feel confident of taking home their first EJ Cleary Medal as the club firsts’ leading player.
That honour will be revealed tonight at the association’s awards dinner at Bray Raceway.
McMahon has enjoyed a dominant season with the ball, taking 53 wickets, a staggering 23 more than his nearest rival. He proved an integral part of the Bulls’ campaign, which saw them rise from wooden-spooners in 2011-12 to a team that finished sixth on the ladder.
He took four separate five-wicket hauls, including 12 in a match against Mt Clear in round two.
McMahon managed 40 wickets last season, but polled just eight votes, nine behind winner and Naps-Sebas captain-coach Dan Davies.
Cape, meanwhile, has impressed with both bat and ball this season.
The Lions’ captain-coach finished the home-and-away rounds with 506 runs and also snared 21 wickets to be a consistent all-round performer.
He made five half-centuries and took one five-wicket haul.
His efforts, on paper, appear much better than last season when he finished runner-up with 11 votes.
In 2011-12, Cape took 21 wickets, including a five-wicket haul, and hit 330 runs as the Lions reached their first-ever BCA club firsts finals series.
And after making the finals again this year it would be only logical to assume Cape would poll well again.
Outside the leading contenders, there’s a host of chances, including McMahon’s teammate Ryan Knowles, Darley all-rounder Brian Wheelahan, batsman Gavin Webb and Coronet City all-rounder Brendan Burns.
The Bernie Davey Medal, for the district division one competition’s best player, will also be presented tonight.
Creswick Imperials captain Kane Leathem must be one of the leading contenders after making 320 runs and taking 15 wickets in a team that finished second on the ladder, as must VRI Delacombe’s James Nicholls, who has made 257 runs and snared 16 wickets.
Nicholls’ teammate Reece Falla has also been a leading all-rounder, with 194 runs and 16 wickets in a season not dominated by a single batsman or bowler.