THE introduction of Batemans Bay into the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association’s second grade competition means there will be four matches played each week, with no team having a bye.
The competition will start with a two day game, with the first day to be played tomorrow at various venues around the South Coast.
Looking back to the 2012/13 season, Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen will start the season looking to continue the great form which saw them win the grand final over Bomaderry in March.
Ex-servos and Bomaderry are back and join Ulladulla, Bay and Basin, Batemans Bay, North Nowra-Cambewarra, Nowra and Berry-Shoalhaven Heads.
All these teams will be looking to start the season on a high with a win in the first round to be played tomorrow.
The South Coast Register caught up with the second grade team captains to ask their thoughts on the year and the upcoming first round.
Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen v Ulladulla United
Saturday, Hayden Drexel Oval
A David v Goliath showdown is expected at Hayden Drexell Oval tomorrow as last season’s premiers Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen take on the wooden spooners Ulladulla United.
But Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen’s captain David Sloane said he just wants to take the start of the season one game at a time.
“It may take us a few games to get going. We have only a couple of guys left over from the premiership season,” he said.
It will be a bit of déjà vu for Sloane, who will start the year with an almost new team, having passed on Nate Jones, Kieran Witt, Andrew Wright and James Spackman to their first grade side.
Sloane has picked up a lot of Ex-Servos’ premiership winning third grade side from last season, with a few surprise players such as Kurt Regan and Nathan Dobeson from last season’s third grade Sussex Inlet team.
“The guys last year were so young and we were trying to get as many as we could ready to play first grade. It has happened again this year so I guess the goal will be again to try to prep the guys for first grade,” he said.
Sloane said to start the season he just wants to get the team to gel together, get them on track in second grade, and hopefully a get a win.
“We plan to be in the mix over Christmas and come good after Christmas,” he said.
Sloane is no stranger to playing high grade cricket.
It will be his second year captaining second grade after taking over from Paul Meakins after the 2011/12 season.
He said the teams to watch out for this season would be Nowra and Bomaderry.
“Nowra will be strong as they were very much in the mix last year. But I wouldn’t discount the Bomaderry side either,” he said.
“Batemans Bay is a complete unknown. I hope for the competition in all grades that they are a really competitive club that strengthen the competition.
Ulladulla United’s second grade captain Rob Thompson jnr is not to be confused with his father, also of the same name, who also captained Ulladulla’s second grade team.
It is the young Thompson’s first full season back playing for Ulladulla after a stint in the Sydney competition.
Ulladulla had a lackluster 2012/13 season, something Thompson, 30, hopes to rectify this year.
“It should be a good season. I am just trying to get second grade back off the ground, starting with getting a full team there at every game – and we are looking good for that,” he said.
Thompson is hoping to field a similar team to last years and bring a few younger players up through the ranks.
“I don’t have too big expectations yet. I just want to get the team to gel, get the boys working together and knock up a win really,” he said.
“But we will be pushing for the semis – that’s what we are hoping for.”
Thompson said that although he did not play much last year, he picked Ex-Servos and Bomaderry as the teams to watch.
Bay and Basin v Batemans Bay
Saturday, Sanctuary Point Oval
THE match at Sanctuary Point Oval between Bay and Basin and Batemans Bay is the game the whole grade is eagerly watching to determine how big a threat the “unknown quantity” Batemans Bay will be.
Paul Windsor will lead the competition’s southern most club and has been playing with Batemans Bay for six years in a mix of first and second grade.
“I am looking forward to it but I think it will be a bit of a challenge. Hopefully it will be a bit better competition and it will be great to play different teams,” he said.
“We have a mixture of youth and experience so hopefully we will be competitive.”
Windsor said he doesn’t know much about the other teams in the competition, but he believes there are some strong teams based in Nowra.
“Our goal is obviously to enjoy the new competition – that would be the most important,” he said.
“But to be relatively successful would be a bonus. Out of the eight teams we would like to finish somewhere around the middle.”
“We are looking forward to new teams with decent grounds and decent umpires.”
Michael Dolby will lead Bay and Basin’s second grade squad this season, but will miss the first week.
North Nowra-Cambewarra v Nowra
Saturday, Bernie Regan Sporting Complex
With the back-up of a full first grade squad, Nowra’s second grade side is picked to be a real powerhouse in the competition this year, after missing out on the grand final last season.
They will take on a promising North Nowra-Cambewarra squad at Bernie Regan Sporting Complex tomorrow.
Nowra’s Jono Clack, 22, will step into the role as his club’s second grade captain after a promising 2012/13 season, his first as captain.
The incident involving the suspension of six first grade players affected his team’s chances last season, as many of their best players had to move up to play for first grade.
Regardless, his team still managed to win the one day grand final and make it to the finals.
Clack looked forward to another hopeful season.
“We have a few young fellas who we are bringing into second grade so it will be good to see how they go on turf,” he said.
Clack said he has a personal goal to take his team to the top two, but would be happy to make the top four.
Nowra has lost Ethan Hogan (work commitments), Adam Ison (first grade) and Justin Wallace (can’t commit to the full year), but will welcome back opening bowler Justin Weller for a full season.
“It will be a good game to start with. They (North Nowra-Cambewarra) were not the strongest team last year, but they have three grades this year and a few young guys stepping up into seconds, so it will be interesting to see how they go,” he said.
Clack said Bomaderry was the team to beat this season.
“Once again they have a lot of good young kids coming through and last year I thought they would have won it. I just like the look of their team. If they play like they did last year then they will be pretty strong,” he said.
North Nowra-Cambewarra’s captain Sam Austin will take the reins this year in his second year with the club.
Austin said his team has been training for a few weeks and have the goal to finish in the top four.
“With the ultimate goal to get North Nowra club’s first ever season premiership,” he added.
Austin, 24, will lead a similar team to last year, with the addition of a few juniors coming up through the ranks.
He hopes for a dry season so his team can get as much play time in as possible.
Austin said that he expects the players to be a bit rusty in this weekend’s game against Nowra, but expects a good game.
“I played a lot of junior cricket with Jono (Clack) and last year they were definitely a very competitive team. It is good to be playing at home and the pitch looks pretty good,” he said.
Austin picked Ex-Servos as the team to watch this season.
“They were pretty strong last year and gave us a hiding in a round,” he said.
Berry-Shoalhaven Heads v Bomaderry
Saturday, Berry Sporting Complex
It will be a repeat of last season’s semi-finals as Berry-Shoalhaven Heads takes on Bomaderry at Berry Sporting Complex tomorrow.
Berry captain Luke Saare is in his first year of captaincy and said it was nice to have the home town advantage for their first game.
“But it will be a tough first match. Bomo are always competitive and there is always that rivalry there. This early in the season it is important to get off to a good start. But once the team gets out onto the paddock we should be a good side and be competitive,” he said.
“But I think there may be a few sore bodies on Sunday and Monday,” he laughed.
After taking out the minor premiership last season, Berry were unable to take that good form all the way to the grand final.
“But we have a pretty decent team. If it isn’t interrupted too much then if we were to make the semis again, that would be good, and hopefully take out the trophy,” Saare said.
“We will see how we go though – saying and doing can be two completely different things,” he laughed.
Saare picked Bomaderry and Ex-Servos as the teams to watch out for this season.
“But the addition of Batemans Bay could be interesting. They have a big catchment area, but we won’t know until we get down there and see what they are like,” he said.
Matt Lees will lead the Bomaderry second grade side this season.
It will be a return to captaincy for the 34-year-old, who once captained the second grade Bomaderry team when he was 18.
Lees said he aims for his team to make the grand final again this year, and hopefully rectify their loss last season.
“It was hard (losing to Ex-Servos in the grand final), but we had our chances. I think I take it a little bit better than some of the guys in their 20s, but they were the better team on the day,” he said.
Lees said because first grade has lost some players, a couple of choice second grade players will have to move up.
But he is confident the young talent coming through will step up to the competition.
Lees said Ex-Servos would be the team to watch in the second grade competition.
“Ex-Servos are always going to be a tough team, and they are always competition in second grade. But Batemans Bay are the big question mark – whether they are strong or not strong,” he said.
Lees looks forward to his team’s first game tomorrow, although he said he would have preferred an easier side for the first game.
“It is always tough against Berry. They always seem to be good games, are always competitive and have a good team. I don’t know who is playing for them, but it is always a close game. We beat them in the semi last season, but they beat us in the game before that so who knows,” he said.