READ MORE - All the BDCA's senior award winners
STRATHDALE-Maristians' gun batsman Jack Neylon credits a new Saturday morning pre-game routine as helping him to elevate his game to the next level.
Neylon this week tied with Sandhurst captain Joel Murphy for the coveted BDCA Cricketer of the Year award, with the pair both polling 17 votes.
For Neylon, it was the icing on the cake for a stellar season in which his Suns went through undefeated en route to winning the premiership.
"It's a bit of a surreal feeling to have won it and good reward for effort throughout the year," Neylon said this week.
Neylon, 23, was a dominant force with the bat at No.4 for the all-conquering Suns in the 2020-21 season, relishing the switch to the all one-day format.
Neylon blasted 577 runs from 15 innings in the home and away season, including five scores above 50 and a high of 129 against Eaglehawk in round six.
Going on the attack from the outset, Neylon regularly scored at a strike-rate of better than 100, including the grand final win over Kangaroo Flat when he smashed a quickfire 43 off just 30 balls.
Neylon's explosive shot-making on a Saturday was helped by having already got his eye in earlier in the day at the Suns' Bell Oval nets.
"I want to give a big thankyou to Grant Waldron (co-coach). Every Saturday morning we'd put in a fair bit of effort and have a hit before every game," Neylon said.
"Hitting those extra balls and putting in that extra bit of work has paid off.
"There were a few of us who'd go down to the nets before every game... Waldo, Jimmy Vlaeminck, Chris Sole, Lino Jacobs and myself for an hour or so to just hit some balls and practice different scenarios of the first 10 overs, the middle overs or the late overs.
"I hadn't done that before on a Saturday morning, so it worked really well. You feel a bit better if you've hit a few balls in the morning before you go out to bat in the arvo."
Neylon also benefited from the one-day format of the game knowing whenever he turned up to a game he knew he'd be batting, as opposed to the inconsistency that can come with two-day cricket depending on if a team bats first or second from game to game.
"That was a massive help. With the two-day game you can put in a fair bit of work during the week on your batting, but then be fielding for 85 overs and not getting a hit until the next week, so that was a good change," Neylon said.
Such was their season of dominance, Neylon was one of five Suns' players who polled at least 10 votes in the count, along with Grant Waldron (12), James Vlaeminck (10), Sam Johnston (10) and four-time winner Cameron Taylor (10).
The Suns also had four players named in the BDCA's Team of the Year - Waldron, Neylon, Taylor and Johnston.
Wednesday night's joint win adds to an impressive Bendigo sporting resume Neylon is building up.
As well as being a BDCA Cricketer of the Year, Neylon is a four-time Suns' premiership player and has also won two Bendigo Football-Netball League senior flags with Strathfieldsaye.
Since making his first XI debut for the Suns in 2013-14 Neylon has made 2666 runs, including four centuries.
FIRST XI VOTES:
BENDIGO - Kyle Humphrys (10), Declan Slingo (5), Dylan Johnstone (4), Nathan Fitzpatrick (4), Matthew Gray (3), Bailey George (2), Shane Koop (1), William Collicoat (1), Xav Ryan (1).
BENDIGO UNITED - Miggy Podosky (7), Tom Batters (5), Jake Thrum (5), Xavier Austin (3), Josh Thurston (1), Riley Treloar (1), Billy Quirk (1), Scott Harper (1).
EAGLEHAWK - Russell Stockdale (11), Nick Farley (7), Aaron Monro (6), Richard Tibbett (6), Cory Jacobs (4), Angus Chisholm (4), Anthony West (3), Ben Williams (3), Nash Viney (2), Brendan Archbold (2), Josh Williams (1).
GOLDEN SQUARE - Scott Trollope (10), Liam Smith (9), Scott Johnson (2), Jake Higgins (2), Tom Campbell (2), Max Grant (1), Riley Hocking (1).
HUNTLY-NORTH EPSOM - Sandun Ranathunga (16), Adam Ward (13), Ryan Grundy (9), Danushka Wijemanna (7), Elliott Massina (5), Brett Elvey (3), Malan Mudasanka (3), Cameron Berry (2).
KANGAROO FLAT - Brent Hamblin (14), Lewis Stabler (10), Jake Klemm (9), Adam Burns (8), Chris Barber (6), Kenny Beith (3), Josh Collinson (3), Nathan Stubbings (2), Ryan Harling (2).
SANDHURST - Joel Murphy (17), Dylan Gibson (7), Anthony McMahon (5), Shane Robinson (2), Nick Gladman (2), Ben Evans (2), Jack Ryan (1), Liam Bowe (1), Braydon Vaz (1), Reilley Porter (1).
STRATHDALE-MARISTIANS - Jack Neylon (17), Grant Waldron (12), Cameron Taylor (10), Sam Johnston (10), James Vlaeminck (10), Ben DeAraugo (4), Chris Sole (4), James Barri (2), Jacob DeAraugo (1).
STRATHFIELDSAYE - Ben Devanny (12), Pat Felmingham (7), Savith Priyan (7), Mitchell Cheesman (6), Callum McCarty (4), Nayana Fernando (3), Darcy Hunter (3), Chathura Damith (3), Jed Rodda (1).
WHITE HILLS - Rhys Irwin (9), Gavin Bowles (8), Caleb Barras (7), Mitch Winter-Irving (6), Linc Jacobs (6), Ollie Geary (5), Hamish Richards (2).
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