Mt Clear spearhead Darcy Thomson is free to line up against Darley in a Ballarat Cricket Association firsts semi-final after receiving suspended sentence.
Thomson received a suspended four-week ban in a hearing on Wednesday night after being charged with dissent against Ballarat-Redan in the last home and away round.
Mt Clear skipper Darren Fletcher expressed relief with tribunal outcome – not surprising given the season he has had with the ball.
Thomson has taken 25 wickets, with best figures of 8-21 against East Ballarat and 5-28 against Ballarat-Redan.
Fletcher and his Darley counterpart Heath Pritchard are each feeling confident about their chances.
Fletcher believes the rivals have similarly balanced combinations, but says the Mounties’ middle order has the potential to be the difference.
“If our middle order shows more than spine than Darley, this could get us the win.”
Matt Ward, who is fresh from a century, the ever dangerous Nathan Yates, Curt Townrow and Nicholas Baird fill this role for Mt Clear, with Yates and Townrow averaging better than 40.
Pritchard and Matt Cape head up this bracket for Darley, which has Lachlan Herring leading the way at the top of the order.
Fletcher said Mt Clear would also put an emphasis on fielding, where he believed it might be sharper.
Darley has called up the seasoned Ben Longhurst for his first appearance in the firsts for the season.
Pritchard said Longhurst had had a good seconds campaign with the ball and would add depth to the Lions’ attack and also more batting power to the lower order.
He said as it had been all season Darley would concentrate on ensuring it strung together partnerships.
Pritchard said it was important not to lose wickets in quick succession.
He said it had been a focus all season and enabled Darley to get some big totals.
Pritchard has no doubt that if Darley can produce its best it has the capability of going all the way this season.
IN considering possible influences on the outcome, the Alfredton Reserve wicket has the potential to be an X-factor.
The BCA has confirmed this semi-final will be played on a strip being used for the first time.
This is the first season the turf wicket square has been used at the venue since it was installed.
Reports are though that it is hard and flat and should be conducive to good cricket.
DARLEY v MT CLEAR
Saturday and Sunday, 1pm
Second (57 points)
Season record: 7 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw
Third (55 points)
Season record: 6 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw
LAST TIME THEY MET
Round 4: Mt Clear 214 (Curt Townrow 66; Heath Pritchard 4-32, Matt Cape 3-32) d Darley (Heath Pritchard 43; Darcy Thomson 4-41, Nathan Yates 4-41)