OVER the past few years the Bathurst district cricket side have fielded a fearsome lineup of younger players, to great success, but the team are turning towards some of their older heads as they begin a new Western Zone Premier League campaign on Saturday.
A raft of player departures can normally cripple a team but Bathurst are lucky to have a strong field of players to call upon for their opening game away against Orange at Wade Park.
Bathurst failed to defend their title last year, missing out on an appearance in the final, and they've got a squad boasting tonnes of experience to help them reach the decider.
The team still has a great selection of young talent - including the likes of St Pat's OId Boys players Mitch Taylor, Ethan Ivory and Bailey Brien - but there's a batting-heavy lineup of older representatives who have been to this level many times before.
The loss of automatic selections and junior stars Nic Broes, Ben Mitchell and Tanvir Singh takes plenty away from both the batting and bowling stocks.
Good thing there's plenty of talent waiting in the wings.
Bathurst have the big-hitting City Colts collective of Henry Shoemark, Jaden Ekert plus Wayne and Dave Sellers while Qureshi brothers Jameel and Imran provide reliability with the willow.
Connor Slattery boasts the most experience among a young Pat's crew and Colts bowlers Dave Henderson and Matt Stephen round out a team capable of going the distance this season.
Keep up to date with the latest sports news by clicking here.
They face an Orange team looking to expose some of their emerging juniors to a high level of cricket.
Ed Dodds, Hugh Middleton, George Cumming and Blake Weymouth are part of that group, and they'll be buoyed by their upset victory over Bathurst at the colts level in last season's Mitchell Cricket Council decider.
Jameel Qureshi, filling in as captain for the absent Adam Ryan, is interested to see how both teams' younger players handle the representative challenge.
"It's a great game to start the season with. It's one of the biggest rivalries in the competition and definitely one of the oldest ones," he said.
"It's always about the younger guys when it comes to bush cricket. That's the future of our game. The older guys generally don't hang around as long and that gives the younger guys their chance.
"We've got some guys who have been on the fringe who have their chance now. A couple of them have played a few games already and that experience will help them a lot."
The Sellers brothers, Ivory, Brien and Stephen are the players coming into the Bathurst team after not being a part of the previous clash with Orange in 2018-19.
Qureshi said it's great having two sets of brothers in the Bathurst squad.
"It's always great having brothers in a side. I've grown up playing with Wayne and Dave. They're two of the toughest cricketers I've met. They're always up for the fight," he said.
"When you go through that list we're very blessed to have the talent pool that we do in Bathurst."
Bathurst's record over Orange in recent times is impressive.
The last time the Orange opens team defeated the Bathurst squad in WZPL was back in November of 2013.
"That's a great record to have but we've been on the receiving end of that as well," Qureshi said.
"We'll go out there and hope to keep that going."
Bathurst's first clash of the season with Orange gets underway at Wade Park from 10am on Saturday.
In other games during the opening round Parkes plays host to Cowra and the new combined Midwest team faces Dubbo in Gulgong.