After steering Old Boys to seven premierships in the past eight years, Ben Middlebrook has dropped back to second grade as he plots a return to premier competition.
One of the biggest battles of his cricket career comes at a hugely rich - and busy - time of his life.
As his 44th birthday approaches and with his family now living at his parents' longstanding Piallaway farm, one of the region's most successful sporting leaders has spoken about his "good" life and his desire to rejuvenate his game after a lean 2020-21 season.
With his wife, Rebecca, by his side, Middlebrook will juggle raising Arya, 4, Liana, 3, and Emilia, 2, with farm life, working for Baiada in Tamworth and, ideally, returning to first grade and helping Old Boys win a fourth straight premiership.
"We've got our hands full, but it's part of life, isn't it?," he said.
The middle-order batsman and spinner believes that it will be only the second season in his quarter century of playing grade cricket that he has not captained a side.
"So it's good to take a break and get away from it," he said.
It will also be good to score a heap of runs. Since the 2012-13 season Middlebrook has scored 3273 runs at 28.22, with three hundreds, 15 50s and a highest score of 195.
Last season, he scored only 115 runs in 11 innings at 16.43.
But crucially, he led Old Boys to a hard-fought grand final win over North Tamworth.
It was time, he said, "to take a step back and relinquish the captaincy".
"It's been, I don't know, 10 years or something [in the role]. It's been a good run," he added.
"I want to go back to twos [second grade] and get a bit of form, because I didn't bat or bowl much last year, and earn my spot back in ones [first grade] if I'm good enough."
He continued: "I think I can [do that]. With a bit of training and a bit of fitness, I don' see why not."
Middlebrook has been replaced as captain by Mitchell Swain.
Swain's predecessor has no desire to resume the captaincy if he returns to the top grade. "I'm not interested in that," he said.
"I think Mitch is a good leader of people, and I think he'll be fine. He's got some experience around him. I think he's the right person for the job."
The Middlebrooks sold their Currabubula property and moved to his parents' farm in January.
"Mum and Dad wanted a hand," he said, "because they're getting on in age ... And we thought it'd be a good opportunity to move the girls out there."
The new cricket season will get under way when the state reaches an 80% fully vaccinated rate. It recently passed 70%.