Cricket: First ball of new season to be bowled on Saturday

After looking like there might not even be a competition at one stage, the return of a few familiar faces to the pitch has the season shaping up to be a competitive one.

Champions: Court House took all before them last season winning both the one-day and two-day titles.

Champions: Court House took all before them last season winning both the one-day and two-day titles.

The season was in danger of being scrapped when the annual general meeting in May was cancelled and a new board was unable to be elected. But at the 11th hour a new board was formed with Brad Gander stepping up as president, James Mack taking on the secretary role and Lachlan King assuming the treasurers duties with Katrina King serving as the recording secretary.

“We’re pretty much on track,” Mack said.

Only first grade will play this Saturday with the lower grades set to kick in next weekend.

“We’re pending third grade at the moment just with numbers,” he said.

Once first and second grade get sorted out, they’ll have a better idea of how many teams they might have. Last season they had five teams in third grade.

The first three rounds of first grade will be one-dayers, the opening round fixtures seeing Court House taking on Kookaburras at Kitchener Park and Albion facing Mornington at Wolseley Park.

Albion have retained many of the side that took the club to the two-day grand final last season with a couple of notable additions.

“Jenko (Brad Jenkinson) is having a run for us,” captain Andy Mack said.

“He’ll be a great asset.”

He’ll boost their bowling and batting.

“We’ve been good for a fair few collapses over the years,” Mack said.

“Hopefully he’ll stiffen up the middle order.”

Muthusamy Karthikeyan (MK) is also expected back before the end of the month and Andrew Darley around December.

“I’m pretty spoilt for choice for bowlers,” Mack said.

That choice extends to variety, Mack also mentioning the likes of Hayden Baker, Jono Crowe and Will Maggs.

Baker was someone that “came out of the blue” last season. Used as a spinner most of the season, he can also bowl handy medium pace.

Maggs is another promising youngster.

“He’s played a bit of Northern Inland stuff,” Mack said.

“The past two or three years he’s won the most wickets in second grade.”

“We’re kind of blessed that we’ve got a couple of young fellas coming through.”

He said Mornington are a bit of an unknown, although they too have been bolstered by the return of a couple of familiar faces.

“Whilst we haven’t finalised our team for Saturday we are looking stronger,” president Pat Maher said.

“We’ve got a few players coming back that haven’t played for a few years.”

Most notably Trent Hilton and Jordy Ford.

“It’s good to see them back. Both are quality players,” [Andy] Mack said.

Hilton has had a couple of years off while Ford has been overseas.

Besides Hilton and Ford, Maher reported Ben Hennessy is “as keen as mustard this year” while Nick Willoughby is also back. 

He was a standout for them two years ago.

“He’s an opening batsmen. That’s what we needed, a couple of players at the top of the order,” Maher said.

Hilton and Ford will also add some depth to the batting.

Mornington didn’t manage to win a game last season but were right in a few games.

“There were about five games there where we were very close but we couldn’t get that one wicket,” Maher said.

“It was a growing season for a young side.”

Court House took all before them last season claiming both the McDonagh Cup (One Day) and JVJ McAdam (Two Day) trophies but are rumoured to have lost co-captain Matt Brady. 

Kookaburras though have arguably been the biggest hit with Jenkinson moving to Albion, and young gun Adam McGuirk and allrounder Troy Sands playing in Tamworth this season.