After his match-winning heroics in last year's two-day grand final, big things were expected of Simon Bellamy in 2023/24.
The flame-haired left-arm orthodox spinner played a pivotal role in securing the most coveted title in Tamworth cricket for City United when he snared 8-41 against the Redbacks to propel them to a title.
But, much to his chagrin, this year has proven to be a stop-start affair which has largely stifled any bowling rhythm.
"I've been injured and planning a wedding, so I've been doing things for that," Bellamy said.
"So I've not really been available much this year."
And while his figures up to this weekend reflect the fact that he has not had many opportunities to get into his bowling, none of that mattered on Saturday.
City United came into the second day of their two-day clash against Souths with a clear shot at an outright victory. But they knew their opponents would fight to the bitter end to stop that from happening.
Having begun the day at No. 1 Oval on 6-145, with a 90-run lead, City didn't last much longer.
Callum Henry (53 not out) was the lone figure of resistance while Conrad George (5-42) tore through their tail with his canny legspin.
City United began the third innings of the match with a 125-run lead, and desperately wanted to secure an innings victory.
"We knew it was on the cards today, we wanted it, and we knew we had to make up a few points from what happened earlier in the season with the loss to Bective," captain Tait Jordan said.
After Jack McVey, who bowled some rapid spells on Saturday, removed Mathew Beattie cheaply, Souths dug their toes in despite the absence of key batters like Josh Richards, Tom Groth, and regular captain Chris Skilton.
Luke Smith and Mitch Smith combined for a second-wicket partnership of 61, while Bellamy got pumped for roughly 20 off his first over.
"The first few overs today were not great," Bellamy said.
And just when it looked like City United would have to pad up again, the breakthrough came.
Andrew Baines got rid of Luke Smith for 40, before Aaron Baker knocked back Charlie Stone's stumps and Tom Fitzgerald had Mitch Smith caught behind.
With Souths reeling after losing 3-25, Jordan brought Bellamy back on.
"It was a little bit better," Bellamy said.
"Once I landed a couple, it felt a bit better. My shoulder's still not great [after it was injured earlier in the season] ... the odd ball turned a fair bit once I landed it, so that helped."
It didn't take long for the left-armer to have English import George Wilson, who has been superb with both bat and ball this year, stumped.
Bellamy, with help from McVey, swept through the rest of the middle and lower order to finish with 4-35.
"He came on when they were four down and took a few quick wickets for us, which really changed the game," Jordan said.
Souths were all out for 119, six runs shy of making City United bat again.
It was a crucial win for the defending champions, who sit the next round out with a bye. After their outright victory over the last fortnight, they are much more confident of a place in the finals.
But Bellamy will be missing for slightly longer than the rest of his teammates, as he is scheduled to tie the knot this week with his partner of 10 years, before the pair embark on a honeymoon.
"These life events are a bit more important [than cricket]," he said with a smile.
"I'm looking forward to getting married."