THE Horsham Cricket Association’s A Grade will feature a West Wimmera side keen to make an immediate impact on the competition.
The season kicks off on Saturday with the West Wimmera Warriors, comprised of players in the now defunct West Wimmera Cricket Association, tackling the reigning A Grade one-day and two-day premiers Homers at Nhill on Saturday.
Homers captain Jarred Combe said it was great for the competition to have West Wimmera join the association.
“It’s good for the competition that there is a new team coming in and we think they will be pretty competitive. It’s a combination of a few teams put together and they will be looking to do well in their first year,” he said.
READ MORE: West Wimmera officially welcomed into HCA
Homers will have a couple of players missing at the start of the season but so far have only lost Marcus Williamson, who has returned to Brim-Kellalac-Sheep Hills.
“Marcus is the only one out at the moment but we will be missing our opening batter Sandy Hodge and Eddy Landwehr at the start of the season due to some work commitments,” Combe said.
“We also have an English import Darren Paul over here for the summer. He was keen to try the Australian conditions and play some cricket in the off-season, so we were happy to take him. He will take up the wicket keeping position and will be a top order batsman.”
Last season’s runners-up Rup-Minyip will start their season against Laharum.
Rup-Minyip would have felt confident last season of defeating Laharum, but captain Travis Hair said the side would be undermanned in the first part of the season.
“We will be without Daniel Schaper and Adam Carter for a little while and Brent Hudson won’t be bowling until after Christmas – he has a footy injury,” Hair said.
READ MORE: Increased B Grade to ignite competition
Ryan Mettleman won’t be playing for Rup-Minyip this season after switching to play in Bendigo with his brother.
Hair expects to bat further down the order this season with the side to turn to some of its exciting young players.
“We will give Blake Turner, Jordan Weidemann and Bailey Young more of a crack in A Grade this season,” he said.
“We’ve lost a couple of players and we will miss Ryan – he won our cricketer of the year last season.
“We are keen for the season and really want to give these young guys some good chances to bat and bowl, especially in the first half of the season.”
In the other game, the Horsham Saints play Jung Tigers at Horsham College
The Saints will have a new captain this season with Austin Smith taking over from Tony Caccaviello moving to play his cricket in Geelong.
Smith said there would be a couple of changes to the Saints line-up.
“We have lost Tony and Matt Combe, which are pretty big outs. We have changed some of the things we are doing at Saints this season. We want our best 11 on the park, regardless of what grade they played last year,” he said.
“We have the likes of Brad Sproule, Mark Crafter and Gary Davidson who were around the B Grade side last year but will come up to A Grade and they will be really good ins.
“Everyone sounds like they are pretty keen. It’s always hard to tell how the league will be, it will take two or three games to work teams out. Everyone seems pretty excited.”
Angus Adams will captain Jung Tigers this season.