EACH season Wendouree manages to reinvent its line-up and fire when it counts. This summer the Red Caps will bid for a fifth consecutive Ballarat Cricket Association firsts title as they seek to continue building an impressive premiership era.
The Courier’s Tim O’Connor scrutinises the new players in town and those ready to shake things up. Time to dust off your helmet and iron out your whites for a bumper summer of cricket, starting Saturday.
BALLARAT-Redan captain-coach Matt Hoey is not making any bold predictions.
Hoey is just hoping to develop what he has within the club and build on last season’s seventh-placed finish.
“We only won three games last year so we will be looking to improve on that and just keep getting games and experience into the young guys because we are a very young team,” Hoey said.
Hoey said recruit Chris Edwards shaped as a handy pick-up and would compliment opening bowler Simon Allan, and was hoping for big years out of players like top-order bat Allister Edmends and leg-spinning all-rounder Jayden Hayes.
SHOCK cellar-dwellers last season, Brown Hill appears poised to pounce and power up the table.
A handful of key recruits, particularly to the bowling stocks, leaves captain Jason Knowles upbeat of an improved year.
“Obviously our target is just to finish in the top four. We have made finals in two of the last four years,” Knowles said.
Renowned for their batting in the past, Knowles believes the Bulls’ strength will be with the cherry this year following the signing of left-armer Josh Reichman and right-arm quick Tom Bourke-Finn, who is back after a stint with Essendon in the district ranks. Knowles’ brother Ryan is back, while strike bowler Matt McMahon is on board for another year.
JUST how much will the loss of Allan Steenholdt hurt the Coronet City side?
Steenholdt led from the front with the bat last season, making 394 runs from eight innings, at an average of just under 50.
He helped the club record three wins and reach a creditable eighth on the ladder.
Following the mid-season departure of captain-coach Tim Cracknell last season, Phil Calvert has stepped up to take on the full-time skipper’s role.
Calvert, a medium pacer, said four wins was a base goal this time around.
“We’ve got a good spread of players. There’s no superstars, but lot of good players that need to step up a bit this year, including myself,” Calvert said.
“We want to be always competitive. We’ve proven in the past we can upset big teams.”
DARLEY got a taste of finals action last season, and now it wants more.
The Lions were bundled out on the first weekend by eventual premiers Wendouree, but their first appearance in a Ballarat Cricket Association finals series leaves captain-coach Matt Cape shooting higher in 2012/13.
“Our aim is to win a final (and) we know we’ve got the squad to do it,” he said.
Cape, who is expected to miss the opening round of the season as he recovers from a fractured leg, said a mix of youth and experience was again the key for his side.
Minimal key departures is important for the Lions, which have added some depth across the grades.
NEW East Ballarat captain Tom Brand says bowling teams out is the biggest challenge for his side to address if it hopes to break into the BCA finals this season.
The Hawks performed consistently to finish sixth last campaign, and Brand, who skippered the seconds to a grand final in 2011/12, is confident of reaching the top four.
“The fellas we had, apart from (Zac) Thorne are still there,” Brand said.
“They now know what’s required to take the next step and plays finals cricket.”
Brand said he hoped players like Mark Shaw, Brad Whittaker and Peter Colbourne would start to stamp their authority on the game, and expected general improvement from young Blake Thomson, who averaged 37 with the bat from nine firsts games last season.
Young bowlers Oliver Hayes and Mitch Humphries are part of the young breed needed to help take the club forward this campaign, while the arrival of Wendouree premiership player John Barnett is a big coup.