Blockbuster opening to 2018 Melbourne Country Week for Ballarat

SELECTOR: Liam Rigby forms part of the panel that will decide the make-up of the BCA's Melbourne Country Week team.
SELECTOR: Liam Rigby forms part of the panel that will decide the make-up of the BCA's Melbourne Country Week team.

Ballarat Cricket Association will travel to take on giants Geelong in the opening round of Melbourne Country Week next month.

The BCA has been scheduled to battle last season’s provincial division champions on Monday, February 19.

This round one fixture has been booked for the Geelong Cricket Ground.

With the format modified for the 2018 carnival, senior representative teams will now play in two pools of four before elimination and semi finals.

Pool games will be played on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the week, with playoff matches on the Thursday. The final has been scheduled for the Albert Cricket Ground on Friday, February 23.

Ballarat took on Geelong in the opening round of last year’s carnival – its return to provincial grade – but was well beaten in the clash.

Geelong made a whopping 6-372 from its 50 overs before restricting Ballarat to 8-192 in reply.

Ballarat rebounded well throughout the tournament to win two games and finished in overall fourth place on the ladder.

After the February 19 clash with Geelong, the BCA will then travel to meet Murray Valley in Yarraville before a battle with Bairnsdale in Hoppers Crossing.

Ladder positions will then determine where Ballarat plays the following day.

In the other provincial division pool is the Sale-Maffra, Warrnambool and District, Traralgon and District and Mornington Peninsula cricket associations.

Ballarat’s key lead-up to the February competition was its division one Kenmac Shield triumph over Gisborne and District in December.

There isn’t any more scheduled practice games for the BCA before Melbourne Country Week.

The BCA’s selection panel is made up of North Ballarat president Stuart McGregor and Roosters captain Adam Eddy, Brown Hill’s Ryan Knowles and Napoleons-Sebastopol duo Liam Rigby and Matt Ringin.

The BCA is expected to seek availability of players from clubs in the coming days.