IMPROVED fitness has been the key game changer for Lucas all-rounder Dale Jeffrey.
He produced his best, most consistent season to capture the Bernie Davey Medal, Ballarat Cricket Association district division one’s top individual honour.
The 33-year-old said it was the ultimate player prize – and he will aim for the ultimate team prize in a four-day final with Lucas against Burrumbeet, starting Saturday.
“I can’t believe it,” Jeffrey said.
“Fitness has been the difference – I started at the gym two years ago and recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their cricket.
“I’ve got an awesome team to play with and my captain (Kane Wilson) has been great in giving me more opportunity to bowl.”
Jeffrey has built his overs up from eight to 10 each week to shoulder the Lucas load with anything from 17 to 30 overs each week.
And it all comes back to improved endurance.
Jeffrey was surprised and humbled to receive the medal last night.
He edged out Buninyong big scorer Brad Palmer by one vote.
Ballan’s Noel Heafield, Burrumbeet’s Simon McCartin and VRI Delacombe’s Jeromy Johnston each polled nine votes.
Jeffrey polled in five rounds, including two best on grounds.
He topped the division one bowling aggregate with 30 wickets at an average of 18.23 with best bowling of 5-26 and chalked up 436 runs (second in the division to teammate Jake Pring’s 512 runs) with a highest score of 101 runs.
Lucas is vying for back-to-back division one flags.
The team has lost about six players from its premiership line-up but Jeffrey was confident in the new mix.
“We have got a big fortnight ahead and I rate us highly,” Jeffrey said.
“We’ve got a good bowling line-up and can bat all the way down.
“Burrumbeet’s batting is probably the most worrying thing for us.”