BALLARAT Cricket Association has been dealt a cruel blow as its Melbourne Country Week campaign came to a disappointing end yesterday.
Wet weather destroyed Ballarat’s chances of reaching the division two final and a shot at promotion back into the competition’s provincial ranks.
Yesterday’s round four match against Warrnambool and District was abandoned without a ball being bowled, after the game was transferred from Melton to Darley Park in the hope of play getting under way.
The result left Ballarat – which had fallen one wicket short of victory when rain ruined proceedings the day before against Traralgon – stranded in third place on the ladder, narrowly outside the top two playoff positions.
Hopes of Benalla beating second-placed Traralgon, which had the potential to elevate Ballarat, were also dashed, with that match being called off at Monash University.
Warrnambool and District and Traralgon will meet in today’s decider at the Albert Cricket Ground in Melbourne.
Ballarat captain Bobby Hind said a newly-introduced rule stating play had to get under way within an hour of the scheduled start time of 10.15am meant yesterday’s fixture had to be called off.
Hind said he felt “extremely hard done by” to miss the final after an undefeated campaign.
“We have done everything we possibly could, but at the end of day we can’t help weather and rules are rules and we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
Hind said he was confident the squad was good enough to have gone all the way.
“Definitely. We scored over 220 in every game batting first and bowling we restricted teams to under that. That’s really good going for any grade of cricket,” he said.
“We had the team that was playing well and batsmen in form so there was no reason why we couldn’t have done it.
“That’s just cricket, I suppose. It just wasn’t to be.”
Ballarat defeated Benalla by two runs on day one, Ferntree Gully by 75 runs in game two before Wednesday’s draw.
The shift from Melton to Darley Park yesterday, even though it didn’t result in a match getting under way, was met with disappointment by Warrnambool and District Cricket Association general manager Michael Harrison.
Harrison told Warrnambool’s The Standard he had lodged complaints with organisers about the switching of venues.
“It’s a five-figure sum every year to go to country week and we have to make sure we get a level playing field,” he said.
“It’s a huge advantage playing on a home ground.
“If the competition was in Ballarat, fine. But it’s not, it’s in Melbourne.
“It should have been shifted to somewhere in Melbourne, not Ballarat.”