SELECTIONS were tough in the Mt Clear camp last night.
All-rounder Dan Hopkinson and influential bat Hayden Cartledge were both available – only two had to make room for this Ballarat Cricket Association club firsts semi-final.
In the end it was Matt Ward and Ash George, who claimed four wickets in the Mounties clash against Napoleons-Sebastopol earlier this season, who were omitted.
The undefeated Mounties have been spoilt for depth this season with all five senior teams in play-offs this week.
They have faced semi-final rival Napoleons-Sebastopol once this season – a 120-run Mounties’ win – and so much has changed since then, for both teams.
Notably for Naps-Sebas, this has been the return of now-captain Matt Ringin from an English summer of cricket and veteran all-round star Carman Mapatuna from Sri Lanka.
The Mounties, who like Naps-Sebas, have settled their line-up. And it is pretty formidable with each team member capable and proven of stepping up for a big game this season.
Adding Hopkinson and Cartledge back in the mix – both were unavailable last round – is a reinforcement.
Cartledge has been a handy boost to the Mounties’ middle order while Hopkinson has starred with bat and ball, chalking up two centuries and two five-wicket hauls in a consistent season.
Mounties’ captain Nathan Yates told The Courier earlier in the week that a semi-final was often the most important and toughest game of the season.
He maintained his business-like approach last night.
“The guys are really looking forward to it,” Yates said.
“But at the end of the day, it is just another game of cricket we have to win.”
Mt Clear and Naps-Sebas each had comfortable, solid win in the final round’sa play last week, the Mounties against Darley and Naps-Sebas against East.