Darley will get an immediate chance to redeem last season’s Ballarat Cricket Association grand final loss to Wendouree.
The Red Caps and Lions face-off in round one’s one-dayer, while victory on Saturday would do little to ease the pain of a grand final defeat, the clash will certainly hold extra meaning.
But newly-appointed Darley captain Michael Alexander said the build-up surrounding the grand final rematch had not been something discussed among the group.
“There hasn’t been a great deal of talk about it to be honest,” Alexander said.
“I think we’re all just keen to get in and start competing. I’m sure there will definitely be a desire within the group to want to atone and start the year off well – that’s a given.
“But it certainly hasn’t been a focus.”
Saturday’s hit-out at Darley Park will also showcase some new faces to last year’s grand final team.
The Lions will be boosted by the inclusion of Sri Lankan duo Anurudda Rajapaksha and Roshan Anuruddha. As is the case with most imports, they come with some uncertainty over how well they will perform, particularly early. But it is expected they will bring some pace to the Darley attack as well as offering something with the bat. While Alexander will bat at the top of the order.
Meanwhile, the reigning premiers will have minimal change to its side. Batsmen Mathew Begbie departs, returning to Melbourne, while Grampians Cricket Association bowler John Butler is expected to be a strong inclusion to the Red Caps’ attack.
Like his counterpart, Wendouree captain Gavin Webb was playing down the grand final redemption hype.
“It’s a new year, both sides will be a little bit different.
“We’ve put a line through last year, it’s a totally fresh start.”
In other round one matches, Napoleons-Sebastopol takes on East Ballarat.
Naps-Sebas went down to Wendouree by two wickets in last season’s semi-final, but captain Matthew Ringin is confident what Naps-Sebas has added to its firsts’ squad will make it a better team.
While East Ballarat were right in the finals race until it lost the final two matches of last season – an unexpected loss to Brown Hill in round 11 shattering there hopes.
A settled first XI line-up will have the Hawks expecting to push for a top four berth.
North Ballarat hosts Ballarat-Redan in what will be a crucial game for two developing sides as they endeavour to start their seasons on a high and carry momentum through the early parts of the season. The Roosters have brought in some talent, The Combine will field a young side.
Mt Clear, Brown Hill and Golden Point all have a bye.
There hasn’t been a great deal of talk about it.Darley skipper Michael Alexander on the grand final rematch