TERANG may have lost four of its grand final team members from last summer, but it is hopeful youth will help it return to South West Cricket’s biggest stage.
Last year’s runners-up will be without Brandon Bant, who has crossed to Warrnambool and District club Brierly-Christ Church, as well as Liam Balcombe, Matt Whitton and Hamish Bruckner.
But they’ve picked up Mount Gambier cricketer Dylan Walsh – a high-to-middle order bat who also bowls offspin – and expect a few former players back after Christmas.
“Unfortunately, for now we’ve lost more than we’ve gained, but we hope a few young ones will step up,” new captain-coach Liam Geary said. “We’ve got a core group of players that we’ve got to focus on and a few young ones coming in.”
Geary, who opens the batting and bowling for Terang, said he was looking to getting stuck into the new season, but was unsure what it would hold for his new-look team.
Terang has been able to retain a strong core of talent and is again eyeing a spot in finals, having broken through to the decider last year under Brett Hunger’s guidance after being knocked out in the semi-final stage the two years prior.
“Every year the goal is to make finals and we made the grand final last year – and we felt like we should’ve won it,” Geary said. “On paper, when everyone is in, we’ve got a really good team. But I already know throughout the year there will be weeks when we have players unavailable.”
Geary has been impressed by the continued rise of young gun Tyson Hay, who had a breakout season in 2016-17.
The first-drop batsman made 250 runs at an average of 17.86 and collected 12 wickets, bowling with an economy of 3.32.
“Tyson Hay is an absolute standout,” Geary said. “He does every session. He played division one the last couple of seasons; he’s always had a lot of potential.
“He had a really good season last year, probably his best. The way he’s looking at the moment, it looks like he’s ready to improve that and take it to the next level.”
Junior Paddy Kavenagh is staking his claim for more senior appearances after playing as a substitute fielder for the top-division side last summer.
SWC will launch a new-look Twenty20 competition this weekend, with three weeks of matches replacing the former post-Christmas knockout competition.
Division one teams will play a morning match and afternoon match for the next three Saturdays. The final round and grand final will be played on January 7.
Division two clubs will play one T20 match per day for three weeks,while the division three competition will begin on October 21 and the Colts on October 22.