HOWLONG has suffered a major blow on the eve of the finals, with confirmation captain Luke Daly will miss the rest of the season.
Work and family commitments have restricted the star all-rounder to just six games, with in-form top-order batsman Scott Montgomery appointed his replacement.
Spiders coach Aaron Hoskin said it was tough to lose Daly, whose last game was against New City last round.
“He’s pulled the pin through family and work commitments which is totally reasonable,” Hoskin said yesterday.
“There’s not much we could do about that.
“It’s a bit unfortunate to miss a bloke of his calibre, (but) you can’t keep them all.”
Daly is one of the competition’s genuine all-rounders.
He took a combined 33 wickets in both two-day and Twenty20 competitions last season and made just over 200 runs.
Hoskin said Montgomery, who joined the club this year from Tavern Panthers, would be an ideal replacement skipper.
The opener has made 320 runs and finished not out on three occasions already this season.
“I’m stoked with him,” Hoskin said.
“We knew he could open the batting.
“We went after him and got a couple of his mates as well who have been great.”
Montgomery and Stephen Burgess will resume today as the Spiders resume at 0-1, chasing Dederang’s 240 at Howlong.
Half centuries from Daniel Perri and Brad Whitefield put the Demons in the box seat, but Hoskin said he was “pretty confident” of getting the runs.
“It’s a pretty good wicket,” he said.
“It’s a must win for us sitting fifth on the ladder.
“We need everyone to perform at the moment.”
Howlong has the bye next round and Hoskin said “it didn’t bother us” that there would be no Provincial or District cricket next weekend due to Albury-Wodonga playing in the SCG Country Cup final.
Games will instead be held on Saturday and Sunday the following week — February 9 and 10.