POOR weather has dealt a cruel blow to the Ballarat Cricket Association’s hopes of contesting the Melbourne Country Week finals series.
The Ballarat boys had Traralgon pegged at 9-144 off 43.1 overs and chasing a score of 9-223 when the third-round match was declared a draw as wet conditions swept across the Malvern Cricket Ground.
Had Ballarat won the crucial match it would have been sitting atop the division two ladder with one qualifying round left, but instead it will now have to defeat Warrnambool today if it is to be guaranteed a finals spot.
Traralgon won the toss and elected to field first, a decision that looked to be paying dividends when it had Ballarat sitting at 5-58 before Carman Mapatuna (73 runs off 111 deliveries) and Liam Rigby (57 off 37) came to the rescue.
Despite battling niggles to both his knee and elbow, Mapatuna has hit a serious vein of form, smacking a combined total of 169 runs in his last two innings.
Jason Knowles did most of the damage for Ballarat with the ball, claiming the scalps of Greg Munro and Lee Stockdale with consecutive balls before dismissing Brad Knowles one ball after his hat-trick attempt.
Knowles (Jason) ended the innings with four wickets off 21 runs while Mapatuna took 3 for 34.
Despite not getting the desired result Ballarat manager Darren Woodyatt was nonetheless pleased with the side’s performance.
“It was a fantastic effort from the boys, Traralgon is a yardstick of the division and we had them covered before the rain stopped play,” Woodyatt said.
“We’re sitting on two-and-a-half wins and we just need to win the game tomorrow to get into the finals.
“Traralgon is in the same boat as us, and so is Warrnambool.”
Yesterday’s rain proved to be Warrnambool’s saving grace, with the current ladder leader in dire straights against Yarra Valley before the match was cancelled.
Today’s all-important match between Ballarat and Warrnambool will be played at Melton.