In the first of a new series, the Mail-Times sat down with a Horsham Saints recruit that's also a familiar face around the club. MATT CURRILL meets Tony Caccaviello ahead of Saturday's opening round...
We're a couple of days away from the start of the season, do you still get those nerves before that opening day?
Definitely. What are we now a couple of sleeps away from the big day on Saturday? I'm always super excited about this time of the year, you get a bit nervous and I just can't wait to get underway
You're back in the Horsham Saints colours this year, but tell us a little bit about your cricket journey.
Last year I played in the Geelong Cricket Association for St Joseph's. We had a pretty good year, but unfortunately we were knocked out in the semi-final, which seems to be the story of my cricket career. This year I'm playing for the Horsham Saints again. I live in Horsham, which will make travelling that little bit easier instead of going down to Geelong. Before that I played for the Horsham Saints for four years and before that in Melbourne for a year or two, and before that Swan Hill.
So how did a young Tony get into cricket?
I was reflecting on this pretty recently. It's part of my job to get kids into cricket and I was thinking how I got into it back in the day. There's two distinct things I can remember. My mom loved cricket, it was always on the telly. I saw it on the telly, then played it in the backyard.
Was there anyone you tried to copy in the backyard?
Growing up I was a big Glenn McGrath fan. Then as I got older it was Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting, so I still had dreams of being a batter. They're still dreams, one day I'll get there.
Earlier this year you had the chance to play for Victoria Country. What was that experience like?
It was awesome. That was the second time I tried out for the team, and I made it last year. I got to play against a lot of the best country cricketers. It was awesome just to be around that kind of setup. The Vic Country trial program has kicked off again, so hopefully I can impress enough and get selection. It was the best cricket I have ever played and hopefully I can get another crack at it.
Were there any nerves about making the move down to Geelong?
Initially, you always wonder where you're going to fit in. I think in terms of standard the good players are about the same level (as Horsham), it's just the depth. In Horsham you still have some very good cricketers roaming around, its just in Geelong you might just have 8/9/10 of a really high standard, which obviously bolsters their competition. When you have half a million people in an area, you're going to have a different competition.
In your role as Cricket Victoria's Cricket Manager for Western Country, you have the chance to make some bigger observations on cricket in the region. What have you noticed?
I'm really interested to see how cricket goes this year given we've got a bit of a runway after winning the men's and women's Ashes. The women's Big Bash is about to start, then there's the men's Big Bash and a home series. There just seems to be a bit of energy around cricket. Different to last year too, its a bit more positive that's for sure.
It will be interesting to see how that translates on to the field. Speaking specifically to Horsham, there's a lot of people, particularly in the junior space that are doing a great job at clubland to really make sure that kids have an opportunity to play cricket and to ensure it keeps growing in the region.
You've come in as the Saints coach this year, how are you feeling about the season ahead?
It should be very interesting, we've got eight teams in A Grade this year (with the promoted Colts, Noradjuha-Toolondo, Blackheath-Dimboola). It will be a pretty even competition. I kept an eye on the scorecards last season and every team has really good players. It will be fairly even.
This weekend against the Homers will be a big test, as history and their last few premierships would suggest. I'm super excited for it.
Where can the Saints get over the line against Homers? Where is that game going to be won?
My philosophy is just to keep cricket as simple as possible. If we can take wickets early that's our best chance, and hopefully restrict their elite batters to lower totals. Homers are very good at restricting teams from scoring, so we've just got to make sure we tick the run rate over.
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Opening round fixtures
A Grade (one dayers)
Rup/Minyip v Colts at Rupanyup Recreation Reserve
Laharum v Blackeath/Dimboola at Cameron Oval
Homers v Horsham Saints at Sunnyside Recreation Reserve
Jung Tigers v Noradjuha-Toolondo Bullants at Dimboola Road Oval
B Grade (one dayers)
West Wimmera Warriors v Rup/Minyip at Davis Park
Quantong v Horsham Saints at Quantong Reserve
Lubeck/Murtoa v Jung Tigers at Murtoa Recreation Reserve
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