BEING chased down the street by a yelling trooper was hardly the welcome Melbourne Renegades players might have envisaged when they arrived in Ballarat.
But it certainly made an impact.
The Renegades have found the golden touch in Ballarat – quite literally when panning for gold – but also in winning over young fans.
They rolled into town yesterday morning, led by captain Aaron Finch, for school clinics at Eastern Oval.
Finch, big-hitting batsman Will Sheridan and wicketkeeper Peter Nevill suited up as the ‘renegades’ of the gold fields at Sovereign Hill, panning for gold by the creek and running from law enforcement down Main Street.
Tourists flocked along store fronts, thinking it was all a part of the entertainment.
In the evening, a few more Renegades suited up for street cricket with residents of a Mount Clear court.
This was day one of the Renegades’ stay for the Wipe Off 5 Ballarat Bush Bash camp.
More Renegades started to arrive last night as the team began to get down to business.
The Renegades’ Big Bash League campaign starts on Friday night against cross-town rival Melbourne Stars.
Ballarat is the first chance the Renegades have to regroup as a team, pulling in players from Sheffield Shield and international duty.
All but Pakistani all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez and Australian Test bowler Peter Siddle are expected to hit the field tomorrow for two practice matches at Eastern Oval.
Wicketkeeper Peter Nevill said it was important to get out in the Ballarat community and hopefully draw on support as they prepared for the Twenty20 season.
And it was nice to have some fun in the process.
“(Sovereign Hill) was good. It’s been a bit of fun understanding what it was like in the 1850s ... wearing a neckerchief,” Nevill said.
“The clinic was great. We had about five or six schools at Eastern Oval, about 300 kids, and we could float around and help a few out.
“We’ve got our actual practice games on Sunday at Eastern Oval and hopefully we’ll get a good crowd along.
“We’d love for them to get on board the Renegades.”
The Renegades have a training session this morning at Eastern Oval that is optional, due to some players’ already hectic schedules this month.
They will use Ballarat as a base to sort out basic tactics as they plot to better last season’s semi-final appearance.
“Our team has a lot of guys coming in from around Australia and around the world but our strength is that we gel quickly as a team,” Nevill said.
“Primarily we ‘re the same playing group.
“Hopefully we can go a bit better this season.”