Darley’s finals hopes rest on winning ways

Michael Alexander. Picture Shawn Smits.

Darley needs everything to go its way if it is to sneak into the Ballarat Cricket Association finals.

After a less than ideal start, the Lions have had to treat every match in the back half of the season as though it were a mini-final – win and the side’s finals hopes remain alive, lose and the season will be seen as one that hasn’t lived up to expectations.

On Saturday, the Lions defeated Ballarat-Redan to remain in the finals hunt.

Resuming at 0-15 chasing Ballarat-Redan’s 149, the Lions got the runs five wickets down to finish 9-201.

Coach Michael Alexander said his side played reasonably well.

“A couple of boys put on a partnership to get the runs, but it was more difficult than we would have liked,” Alexander said. “It turned out to be a tricky chase. We would have liked to get the runs for a couple less wickets.

“This season, our batters haven’t been fantastic and we’re still not where we want to be, but we’re getting better.”

Bradley Barnes top-scored with 63 for the Lions.

Alexander said the Lions could have continued to bat on, but with a finals spot potentially coming down to percentage, they sent Ballarat-Redan back in, looking for quick wickets. Ballarat-Redan finished on 2-26.

The Lions are six points and percentage outside the top four heading into the final round. They need to beat bottom side Brown Hill if they are any chance to make the top four and sneak past either Mt Clear or North Ballarat, who are equal on points.

Alexander and his side knows that an outright victory could be the only way.

“We can only control what we can do,” he said.

“We’ll look at trying to get the six points and then play around with other scenarios.”

He said not making finals would be a failure.

“We would be bitterly disappointed. It would be a failure with the side we have and what we were able to do last year.”

The Lions know better than most teams that anything can happen in the final round of the season.

Two years ago, they entered the final round on top, only to miss out on the finals when results didn’t go their way.

The Lions’ seconds sealed a finals spot on Saturday.

The Lions’ third and fourth sides won’t play finals, but Alexander said that overall the club continued to improve.

“It would be nice to have all four teams finish in the top six, which is still a possibility,” he said. “Depth-wise we’ve been bringing a few kids along.”


Tara Murray