Local rivals to play off in Cricket Willow final

James Lidgett. Picture Shawn Smits.

By Tara Murray

There’s more on the line than just winning for Bacchus Marsh and Darley in the Central Highlands Cricket Willow Division 1 grand final on Monday.

While the winner of the grand final takes the title of the region’s best T20 team and goes through to the Cricket Victoria Regional Big Bash competition finals, there will be bragging rights on the line too.

While the two football clubs of the cross town rivals play in the same competition, it will be the first time the two have met on the cricket field in more than 15 years.

There have been attempts to set up matches between the sides, including late last year, but they have failed to come to fruition.

Both sides said they were looking forward to the challenge of facing each other.

Bacchus Marsh captain-coach James Lidgett said there had already been a few text messages with some banter between the two sides.

“It is exciting for the town,” he said.

“There will be a bit of competiveness on the ground and hopefully it’s played in the right spirit.

“Then after the game everyone shakes hands and has a beer together.

“Hopefully there will be a big crowd. We’ll look at getting a bus up there and hopefully there are a few Darley boys as well.

The Bulls made it through to the final after beating Barkers Creek in a semi final on Sunday.

Barkers Creek made 8-118 off its overs, with the Lions having no issue at all chasing down, finishing 3-123.

Lidgett top scored with 65 not out in the win.

“It’s just exciting to play in a format that we don’t play often and is new for some players,” Lidgett said

“We played really well, but there’s a couple of areas for improvement.

“It’s a chance to represent the club and a field a strong team that represents the association.”

Darley’s Michael Alexander. Picture Shawn Smits.

Darley, who won the Ballarat Cricket Association 2018 T20 title earlier this year, went straight through to the Cricket Willow final after their semi final opponent pulled out.

Lions president Rod Ward they were really pleased to get the opportunity to finally play Bacchus Marsh. It’s the first time the Lions have made the Cricket Willow grand final.

“We’ve been trying to establish an annual practice match for a while,” Ward said.

“It is a regional competition and to be able to play the local rival makes it even more exciting.

“There has been a little bit of interest been the sides on social media.”

Ward said while it was exciting to see both local teams in the final, it also showed the level of sport in the two towns.

“Sport in Bacchus Marsh itself is in a strong position,” he said.

“Both sides are strong in the footy and sports participation is higher than the country average which indicates a healthy state of sport in the region.”

Ward said they would possibly look at taking a bus up to Cricket Willow and said he expected a big crowd to make the trek.

He said they were only focusing on this match and weren’t thinking ahead to a possible spot in the Cricket Victoria Regional Big Bash.

The Lions good local T20 form has continued this season, with the side through to the semi finals of the Ballarat Cricket Association.

The Cricket Willow division 1 final will start at 3pm. The division 2 final, which involves St Anthonys will be played at 12pm.