The 2011-12 Maryborough District Cricket Association season will kick off tomorrow, with three A grade matches scheduled to take place.
With the league losing two sides in St Arnaud and Clunes for the year, the A grade competition has now been reduced to just six sides for the year.
St Arnaud has cut ties with the MDCA and shifted to the Wimmera Mallee Cricket Association in an effort to lessen the workload on the club’s volunteers and boost flagging interest among the playing group, while Clunes has entered recess for a year after their home ground, Victoria Park, was declared unusable in the wake of January’s floods.
Laanecoorie Dunolly will host last year’s wooden spooners MKM and both sides will be out to make a strong start to the year after disappointing 2010-11 seasons.
Laane has lost the services of pace bowler Trevor Daly, who has taken a year off, along with all-rounder Ryan Potter, while batsman Nick Hoban has transferred to Maryborough.
MKM will field a virtually unchanged side from the one which competed last year.
Liam Mottram takes the reins from Steven Dellavedova as Dunolly’s new A grade skipper, while Matthew Sinclair will lead MKM, succeeding veteran Adam Bell as the side’s captain.
Maryborough will make the trek to Beaufort for a rematch of last year’s final, which saw the ’Borough triumph over the Crows.
Maryborough has added Nick Hoban to its line-up, while former players Adam Hurse and Warren Berry will add some batting firepower to the side after spending a year out of the game.
For the Crows, who are expected to field a depleted side this weekend with several players unavailable including captain Ben Hayes, the only addition to their ranks for this season is wicketkeeper Lachlan Murray, who makes his return to the club following a year with Mount Clear.
Two sides who could establish themselves as premiership contenders for season 2011-12, Colts Phelans and Carisbrook, will face off at Hedges Oval in the final game of the opening round.
Colts have welcomed back former captain Matt Brown, along with Jibb Iglesias and wicketkeeper Anthony Barnard, improving on the side which finished third in last year’s rain-interrupted season.
Meanwhile Carisbrook has also made two quality additions to its A grade side with ex-MKM all-rounder Sam Bartlett returning to the MDCA with the ’Brook along with off-spinner and former MDCA junior Brandon Weatherson, who heads to Carisbrook to assume a coaching role after spending time with Wendouree.
Former Carisbrook coach Martin Mark will serve as the side’s captain, while Adam Balzan takes over from Kane Shepherd as Colts’ skipper.