IF Bathurst City want to take back-to-back Bathurst District Cricket Association first grade titles then they’re going to have to do it with a very different team.
With several players unable to return for a new season it’s going to require a strong effort from the Redbacks to maintain their imposing record in the competition.
Their title defence will begin on Saturday when they take on St Pat’s Old Boys at The Scots School, giving the Redbacks an opportunity to see how a new lineup will fare.
However, captain Matt Willis said the changes haven’t diminished his team’s winning ambitions.
“We’ve got a totally different team this year. We’ve picked up Mark Day from ORC and he’s a great young cricketer. Unfortunately we’ve lost Matt Lawson, Kirby Earle and Adam Orme but I’m confident the young guys in the team can step up,” he said.
We’ve had a core group who have been there every season, now it’s good to give the younger guys a bigger role in the team."
“Joey Coughlan will look to expand on what he did in the grand final and find some more consistency. Ben Orme has a big job batting at the top … and Cohen Schubert’s 18 now ready to step it up. Myself, Trent Hemsworth and Greg Adams are still there.”
Earle had the second-highest batting average in first grade last season with 49.33, which includes two centuries during a dominant opening half to his season.
Lawson’s departure sees the loss of 2015-16’s leading wicket taker and no Adam Orme in the team means a valuable bowling option can’t be utilised.
On the brighter side for the Redbacks, Day’s inclusion brings in a rising talent who cracked a second grade ton last season and also scored a first grade half century against the team he’s now joining.
Willis sees it as a change that was some time coming for the Redbacks, who had managed to maintain a consistent first grade core group over many years.
“It was always going to happen. We’ve had a core group who have been there every season, now it’s good to give the younger guys a bigger role in the team,” he said.
“Jarrod Urza, Rory Daburger – who played for us in the grand final – and John Rudge are back as well. It's hard to replace the three gone, but they weren’t three players who would win us matches single-handedly. We’ve got the players to step in.”
Bathurst City lost just one match, the qualifying final, on their way to taking out last season’s competition. Despite their changes they return once again as the team to beat.