Teams prepare for league season

Victor Tanti, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian

The 2015-16 Geraldton Bendigo Bank Cricket League season starts tomorrow with the first of a round of T20 matches.

The T20 games form part of the season proper so all clubs will be out to win.

The Geraldton Guardian looks at the five teams and their players.

BLUFF POINT (est 1961-62)

Premierships: 5

Runners-up: 9

The Pointers had a solid 2014-15 to make the top three after recovering from a terrible start.

At the time of writing, a captain had still to be named, with Jay Comben apparently standing down.

Logically it’s either Carl Shilling or Ryan Dixon but Shilling has work commitments and Dixon seems reluctant.

Despite that, club stalwart Joe Italiano is positive.

“We aim to build on the past two season’s work and need our players to believe in their skill and talent and work harder because our best is as good as anyone’s,” Italiano said.

“We’ve picked up Sam Millet (ex-Dongara), who will be handy, and a couple of others who I hope are A-grade quality.

“Dermott Collins has been bowling well in the nets and Jayden Pinto can succeed if he gets a handle on what’s required in A-grade.”

There are serious losses with Theo Curtis not playing, while Shane Bonney is reportedly moving to Perth and Dan Shilling has already moved.

Comben will play, as will Ashley Taylor along with Taylor’s son Darren, with perhaps a few games out of another son, Brad.

Peter Maxwell works away but will play when he can.


Premierships: none

Runners-up: none

The Valley Rams are the competition’s newest club, entering just their seventh campaign.

In 2014-15, the Valley Rams had a 2-10 record but should have done better.

New captain Nigel Routledge is determined his side will turn winning positions into wins more often.

“We want to push for finals — we have essentially the same group, which is big for us, as it’s something we generally haven’t had,” Routledge said.

“We’ve got a focus of keeping the foot on the throat when we’re in a good position, something we struggled with last summer; we have to make good performances a habit.

“Young Hayden Blattman has come across from Wanderers, Ryan Bradburn joins after a few years away from the game and Trent Simpson is due at training any minute now.

“I think Brayden Connor, Flynn Heberle and Brayden McMath all showed plenty of ability last season so we’ll be looking to run them through senior cricket.”

From last season’s group, Routledge, Simpson, Hayden Dawson and Patrick Walsh remain with Ryan Trump, who is travelling, the only major loss.

Andrew Cripps will miss the start while Courtney McLeod, Scott Harrison, Daniel Gill and Luke Austin will mix cricket with other commitments.

SPORTSMANS (est 1989-90)

Premierships: 3

Runners-up: 5

Chairman of selectors Gary Bone says his club has been frustrated in the past two seasons by missing the finals.

“We have a lot more talent than that and I expect better and more importantly so do the players,” he said.

“We’re very happy to have Martin Tobin as coach, he’s got us training properly and made a heck of a difference with the club and his one on one work with players.

“You can see he’s coached at a higher level with his technical skills and ability to identify and correct problems.”

Most of the team from last year is intact with Clint Yeates as captain and Dan Welsh as deputy.

Add Ben O’Brien, Tobin and his son Marcus, Jono Jones, Callum Jupp, Graham Barndon and Lucas Horwood and Sporties look fine.

Cody Bone will again miss half the season with work while Brock McCashney has an injured hand and will miss the start as will Reece Prosser who is away with work.

“Josh McGlynn is back from Perth and we have Scott Atkinson, Riley Barham and others to push for places so we have the players, now we have to get results,” Bone said.

TOWNS (est 1945-46)

Premierships: 9

Runners-up: 13

Towns made last season’s grand final but a 7-7 record reveals a patchy year.

With Michael Robartson working away, Jai Russell is skipper, but will miss the first four to seven weeks with work.

John Elliman will lead in his absence.

“Our aim is always to make finals but we’re rebuilding; we’ve been fortunate to play in the past six grand finals for three wins but have lost some quality,” Russell said.

“Steve Librizzi, Gerard Marquis and Nathan Podmore have retired and Chris Wright has family commitments.

“We hope to get some games out of Robartson while Erin Logue is likely off to university next year when we also lose Matt Clarke. Alex Reynolds is being groomed as Clarke’s replacement.

“The three Forsyth brothers, Matt Hughes and Kurt Crudeli will play B-grade and we’ll look after Phoebe Vlahov when she’s not playing women’s rep cricket.”

Russell wants Daniel Lennard to step up and Towns have scored Michael Travcich, a useful left hand middle order bat and right arm medium pacer, and Fraser Daly (ex-Dongara).

Daly, a right arm pacer, is fit after a hard football season and will support Glenn Wishart.

WANDERERS (est 1977-78)

Premierships: 20

Runners-up: 7

Wanderers has played in the past 28 finals series.

The Yellowcaps have stuck with Shayne Bidwell as captain and have every chance of being premiers again.

Wanderers only lost once last summer and Bidwell wants more of the same.

“All teams should be competitive again and hopefully it will be another hard-fought season,” he said.

“Each team’s prospects will depend on how many key players they keep and new inclusions.

“We don’t have any new players as yet, but have some really exciting juniors coming through.

“I’m expecting Rhys Lane to step up … I suspect will be an inclusion in A-grade.”

Of last summer’s group, Bidwell, Bruce Gillingham, Matt Gallop, the unrelated Brady and Ben Collins remain.

Ross Graham will miss some games while Brad Annison will only play the first half of the season.

Jacob Sumner and Ringo McKenna will aim to build on their promise and the only major losses are Damien King (moved to Perth) and Brendan May.

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