PIVOTAL all-rounder Nathan Yates captured his second EJ Cleary Medal at Bray Raceway last night.

This is the first time Yates has won the Ballarat Cricket Association club firsts’ top individual honour.

The East Ballarat captain tied for the award with Mt Clear skipper Matt Goonan two years ago.

“It means a lot to actually win this award on my own for the first time,” Yates said.

“I’m honoured and proud to wear it on my neck but at the end of the day this is a team sport and I’d rather be like (grand finalists) Napoleons-Sebastopol and Wendouree and on the water tonight (sic).”

Yates returned to the BCA this summer after a season’s hiatus with Geelong Cricket Association club Lara.

He said the season in the high standard competition, including a premiership with Lara, had revived his game.

True to his all-round reputation, Yates emphatically topped the firsts’ batting aggregate with 496 runs, batting average with 55.11 and bowling average with 25 wickets at 8.80 in what was mostly a one-day season.

Yates polled 20 votes, including five best-on-grounds, and consistently earnt votes in eight of 12 rounds.

He edged out Darley captain Matt Cape by four votes. Each polled three votes in the final round.

He edged out Darley captain Matt Cape by four votes. Each polled three votes in the final round.

Cape claimed votes in seven matches, including three best afield, having played a similar role to Yates in leading a developing team.

The Lions’ skipper finished second to Yates in the batting aggregate and average, tallying 425 runs at an average of 47.22.

Golden Point opener Brad Palmer was third in the count with 13 votes ahead of Napoleons-Sebastopol paceman Ash Ringin (12 votes), who nabbed 33 wickets this season as the competition’s leading wicket-taker.

Yates, who started favourite for the count, said he had not expected to leave presentations with the coveted EJ Cleary about his neck.

“Cape was my pick for the medal,” Yates said. “When I walked in tonight (sic) I thought he would win for sure and maybe, I might finish runner-up.”

Yates, in accepting his medal, thanked East Ballarat for taking him straight back into the fold this season.

He looked forward to what his Hawks might achieve next summer