Melbourne Renegades at home in Ballarat

AARON Finch says Ballarat is definitely a Renegade kind of place.

Melbourne Renegades spent the past three days camped in town to launch their Big Bash League campaign.

They made themselves at home at Eastern Oval yesterday for two matches against the South Australian-based Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy.

Renegades’ captain Finch was pleased with the reception his team received.

“I think, being a country boy myself, the whole western district is Renegades territory,” Finch said.

“Ballarat is not really a Stars kind of place. Colac, Warrnambool and Geelong really aren’t either.”

Finch praised Eastern Oval facilities and the pitch as “first class” and a great place for the Renegades to start their campaign.

This is the first time the Renegades gathered as a squad this season, one week out from their opener against arch rival Melbourne Stars.

The skipper said his team knew it would have to play well against the DLCA, a team of first-class players, but it was a crucial match to their preparations.

Momentum could be tough to find right away, Finch said, except “maybe Murali can”.

“Any time you have such a packed season – we have five games in two-and-a-half weeks – you don’t have much time for preparation,” Finch said.

“Momentum is everything.”

They will continue to plot tactics the next two days at St Kilda’s Juction Oval.

The Renegades started arriving in town on Friday for school clinics and community appearances, including an attempt to pan for gold at Sovereign Hill.

Training was optional on Saturday morning at Eastern Oval with most players going back to Victorian Premier Cricket Twenty20 atches.

Renegades rookie Matt Short and Englishman Jos Buttler stepped out in a specially constructed net at Eastern Oval on Saturday for training.

Short, an East Ballarat export, padded up to face a small group of Ballarat bowlers – mostly Golden Point  – who used the late morning session as part of their own warm-up.

Training was specifically targeted at the Twenty20 game and fielding set-ups.

Renegades coaches also spent time with the Golden Point squad, before the Pointies’ firsts clash with Darley got underway.

The Renegades open their season at the MCG on Friday night and Finch hopes to see more Ballarat fans when the Renegades return to their home ground Etihad Stadium.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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