COLAC district Division One cricket captains say Joe Dare’s dominant 2014-15 season should see the star Stoneyford all-rounder claim a hat-trick of Bill Johnston medals.
Dare has had a standout season for the Maroon Caps, who are chasing back-to-back premierships in Saturday’s decider against Alvie, and six of the competition’s seven skippers have all predicted him to pick up the league best-and-fairest award on grand final eve.
Top-grade skippers signalled Colac co-captain Jack Spence as Dare’s only other competitor for the coveted award, which is named in honour of Bill Johnston, a Colac district cricket product who played 40 Test matches for Australia between 1947 to 1955.
Spence returned to the Stallions after a four-year stint with GCA team South Barwon this season and produced 457 runs and took 31 wickets from 14 appearances with the semi finalists.
He started the season in strong fashion with the bat and ball for Colac, and Alvie skipper Luke McLennan expects Spence to poll well early, before Dare, who averaged 48 runs alongside 16 wickets in his final six matches, to storm home in the count.
“I think Joe Dare’s going to give it a big shake again, he’s going to be hard to beat and Jack Spence will do well,” he said.
“I think Jack missing that game with the wash-out might hurt him and Joe had a really good finish, so I think Jack might lead him early with Joe to run him down and win it.”
Joe’s brother Levi said his younger sibling and Spence, who opened the batting together at this year’s Country Week carnival, were the two standout performers this season.
“I think I’ve got to go Joe again, especially with his second half of the year, but I think Jack Spence is the only danger to Joe that I can see,” he said.
“He’s very similar to Joe and I think it’ll be hard to keep him out of the votes, but guys like Apollo Bay’s Darren Gill and Luke McLennan and Andre DeLorenzo will also poll pretty well.”
Irrewarra skipper Dave Jackson said Joe Dare had become the most complete cricketer in the top grade competition.
“Joe Dare will win the Bill Johnston as he is the premier all-rounder in the comp,” he said.
“He has taken over from Jeff Percy, and is the most dangerous batsman in it, and constantly takes bags of wickets, as well as being an exceptional fielder.”