COBDEN cricketers will have few expectations when they return to South West Cricket’s top grade this season.
Club president Cameron Beaton said the playing group would not put pressure on itself as it sought to cement its place in division one.
Cobden dropped back to division two last season after years battling near the bottom of the top-grade ladder.
The move proved worthwhile — the young side reached a semi-final and showed signs it was on the rise.
Beaton said a players’ meeting at the end of the season called for Cobden to reapply for division one — regardless of the competition format.
He said Cobden was competitive but failed to win a match in its last season in division one.
“Dropping back last year was a pretty hard decision, but it had to be made with the players we had,” Beaton said.
“Quite a few of the regulars from a few years before, we couldn’t get a commitment out of them.
“The year before when we were in A grade we struggled all year.
“We were competitive but we never had the goods to get a win.
“The younger blokes were a little bit young for the responsibilities they had, and we didn’t have many older ones who could guide them through.”
Beaton said the younger players, Angus Uwland, Ryan Simmonds and Josh Fagan, “got confidence and played pretty good cricket” in division two last season.
“It’s turned out for the best,” Beaton said.
“We went back to one-day cricket and we got commitments from Tim Horan and Paul Hinkley and Brendan Murfitt.
“And there were a few newer ones like Marty McDonald.
“Although we didn’t win the premiership, we were definitely happy with last year.
“We let ourselves down a bit in finals, we thought we’d do better.”
Cobden successfully applying to promote means South West Cricket’s top grade will have nine teams, and a bye.
The uneven number loomed as a problem, but a decision to play solely 50-over one-day matches means teams will not miss consecutive weeks of cricket. Beaton said Cobden hoped to be competitive in its first season back playing against perennial finalists Mortlake and Terang.
“I don’t want to put anything on us, but we should be competitive,” he said. “Hopefully the younger boys can find their feet back in A grade. Most of them have played two or three years of senior cricket now.”