MATCHING it with the top teams in the competition proved Golden Point’s stumbling block last season.
A fifth-placed finish was an improvement on the year before, but saw the Pointies miss the finals once again.
And despite no real movement in its first eleven ranks, skipper Josh White is confident of snatching a spot in the playoffs this time around.
“We win the games we need to too, but now it’s just matter of beating those sides in the top four,” White said.
“Obviously in the ones we want to play finals this year and that’s the goal. We think we have improved a lot, we got a seconds flag last year.”
White said the batting department was where his team needed to lift, believing it had a strong attack, capable of bowling sides out.
A COUPLE of ins, a couple of outs. It appears as though Napoleons-Sebastopol will be again around the mark.
Back-to-back grand final defeats will have left the Naps-Sebas mainstays hungry for the ultimate success, and despite the loss of quick Ash Ringin and gloveman Les Sandwith, the club appears set for another strong season.
The return of spinner Jacob Branch will help the bowling stocks, while Luke Corden’s back to bolster the batting line-up, which was the side’s obvious downfall last campaign.
Captain-coach and reigning EJ Cleary Medallist Dan Davies is now in his second year at the club, and expects it to be just as competitive in 2012/13.
“I’d probably see our side as being fairly similar,” Davies said.
“The last two years they have played in a grand final, but regardless of how good or bad your side is, your goal is to play finals and finish in those top four positions.”
ANY past performances are essentially out the window. New Mt Clear captain-coach Matthew Drain is starting fresh.
Drain, who joined the club during the off-season, said he will make his own assessments on the playing list before selecting a first eleven side.
The former Essendon and Carlton premier cricketer said all players from last year’s team have stayed on.
“What I have been impressed with is the talent across the board, the culture and the enthusiasm, but at the end of the day we have got to actually deliver across all grades,” Drain said.
“I’m keen to promote some young players if they are committed and going okay performance-wise.”
Drain said young Nic Baird, who played in the Grampians Cricket Association last year, was likely to start the season in the firsts.
NORTH Ballarat captain-coach Bobby Hind said inexperience cost his side a host of close matches in a tough 2011/12 campaign.
The Roosters finished second last with just two wins last season, but Hind is hoping some natural improvement from the club’s band of young stars can take it to six victories this time around.
Scott Boadle, Matthew Spratling and Ash McCafferty are some of the up-and-comers expected to excell.
“Finals would be perfect, but if we are to win six games it would be a great improvement,” Hind said.
The loss of Jarrod Burns will hurt, but Hind is excited by the inclusion of batsman Daniel Forster, who will fill a spot in the Roosters’ top order.
Xavier Watson will take over the full-time wicket-keeping role.
THERE appears little respite for Wendouree’s opposition, with the Red Caps shaping as the yardstick once again.
Captain Heath Pyke says all of the club’s first eleven grand final winning side will return for a crack at a fifth-straight flag.
“It’s nice to go into a season with a relatively unchanged line-up in terms of the personnel we are going to have available for selection,” Pyke said.
Premiership player John Barnett, who was in the seconds last season, has signed over to East Ballarat, while fellow flag-winner Matt Smith is expected to return after a season away through injury.
Quick Jordan Oliver, who played in the club’s state Twenty20 victory last season, is being touted as a regular firsts player, while the likes of Jackson Phillips, Jack Peeters and Brody and Dylan Price might get their chance during the year.