The ACA Masters tour for 2018 wrapped up earlier this week after spending five days across regional Victoria.
The tour took a total of 14 current and former international and domestic stars to Ararat and the Latrobe Valley, engaging over 500 children in clinics and playing T20 games against local representative teams.
Commencing in Ararat on Thursday night, the Masters appeared at regional school visits, followed by a well-attended Sportman’s Function that night.
Community visits rolled on into Friday with a number of schools taking part in a super clinic at Alexandra Oval, before an all-abilities curtain raiser.
Many of the Masters described the all-abilities game as the highlight of the tour.
With a healthy crowd building for the main game, captain Andy Bichel won the toss, electing to bat.
Sean Clingeleffer (17) and Graeme Vimpani (42) put the Masters into an early ascendancy, before former shield run machine Mark Cosgrove whacked 57 runs, guiding his team to a commanding total of 155.
Recently retired Doug Bollinger was given the new ball, much to the elation of the local crowd.
Despite going wicket-less, the fast bowler gave locals a first-hand look and some of the pace and swing which terrorised batsman around the world.
Brett Geeves tied down one end, finishing with figures of 2/8 while current Australian off-spinner Molly Strano conceded little to the locals, taking 1-16 off four overs.
Hard-hitting batsman Jack Ganley kept the Grampians Cricket Association squad in the game. He posted 45 runs, including a massive six into the Alexandra Oval carpark before being bowled by Bichel (2/65).
Despite some rain late in the innings, the Masters held on for a three-run victory.
15-year-old all-rounder Reece Kettle received the ACA Youth Scholarship, taking home $1,000 and will receive mentoring from Cosgrove.
A four-hour journey then followed across Victoria to Gippsland.
Saturday evening saw the Masters attended a local end-of-season cricket function, with a high performance junior clinic featuring some of the region’s brightest talent the next morning.
The Masters squad then made its way over to Morwell Recreation Reserve to play against a combined Central Gippsland and Traralgon and District Cricket Associations team.
Bichel won the toss again and opted to bat.
A few early wickets had the Masters in trouble at 4/26 but Bollinger (31) and Geeves (26) steadied with a middle order partnership, helping the Masters to a defendable score of 104.
Rain however put an early end to the second innings with the local team at 1/42.
Blair Clymo and Ewan Williams both received the ACA Youth Scholarship.
Peter Siddle Oval was the venue on the final day of the tour with the Masters engaging in clinics with some local schools, signing autogrpahs and stopping for photos.
ACA Masters squad:
Andy Bichel, Doug Bollinger, Ray Bright, Cameron Borgas, Sean Clingeleffer, Mark Cosgrove, Lyndall Daley , Brett Geeves, Dave Gilbert, Greg Matthews, Julia Price, Peter Sleep, Molly Strano, Graeme Vimpani.