THE Ferntree Gully District Cricket Association’s newly named Norm Reeves Shield season begins this Saturday. ROY WARD looks at the season ahead.
FERNTREE GULLY FOOTBALLERS
Captain-coach: Prabath Nissanka
New: Nuwan Costa (Burwood
Districts), Nick Bogar (Hawthorn-Monash University)
Chances: Footballers will be a much-changed side this season with former Sri Lankan international bowler Nissanka taking charge of the team. Bogar and Costa should add strength to the side with respected veteran Rob Bedford moving down a grade to play in the seconds.
Captain-coach: Andrew Devenish
New: Adam Dobbs (import), Dom Monea (Hawthorn-Monash University)
Chances: The Sharks will be right around the mark again with a young side led by the class Devenish and strengthened by the additions of Dobbs, an off-spinner and batsman, and Monea, a keeper-batsman. The loss of fast bowler Troy Gstrein will hurt the Sharks but with more young players coming through the ranks they expect to compete once again.
Captain: Jarrod Bradley
Coach: Ashley Henry
New: Jarrod Bradley (Mulgrave), Josh Henry (Premier Cricket).
Chances: The Blues bring in new captain Bradley, an all-rounder who brings his skills to the Blues after Shane Richardson stepped down from the captain-coach role. All-rounder Muhummad Farrukh returns for another season while former Premier Cricket player Josh Henry returns to add quality to the batting order. It's hard to know if the Blues are contenders or just a mid-level side. Time will tell.
Captain: Scott McKenzie
Vice-captain: Luke Flynn
New: Josh Hillyer (Hawthorn-Monash University)
Chances: The Knights will miss star all-rounder Ben Morris who has moved back to his home club, Heathmont, and new skipper McKenzie has urged his teammates to all lift their output to make up the shortfall in runs and wickets. Hillyer will bat in the top-three and should add toughness while the Knights will also be asked to bat with more discipline and put a higher price on their wickets.
Captain: Sam Taylor
Coach: Matt Mulcahy
New: Mitch Hewitt (break)
Chances: The Tigers crave more premiership success this season and will do so with largely the same side. Opening bat Ryan Pitts has retired but the addition of Mitch Hewitt and the rise of several promising juniors should see the Tigers start as premiership favourites. Mulcahy remains as a player and coach and Taylor is the captain.
Captain: Adam Wild
Coach: Jeremy Mackinnon
New: Signings still being completed.
Chances: The Falcons will return to the top grade determined to make their mark with star batsman Wayne McInerney on board along with skipper Wild and coach Mackinnon. The only loss this season is Scott McInerney who is focusing on football with TAC Cup side Eastern Ranges.
UPPER FERNTREE GULLY
Captain-coach: Adam Slack
New: Adam Slack
Chances: The Kings have retained the majority of last year's side and added Slack, who comes from Mulgrave to lead the club. With a few younger players pushed into the ones, the Kings hope they can push into the finals this season.
Captain: Cameron Cosstick
Coach: Nathan McNally
Chances: The Panthers begin the season without star player Shane Cosstick who left for Decoite Shield club Monbulk. Players like David Smyth and Ryan Hicks could play more regularly while the Panthers have recruited several leading coaches to develop their players over the season.
Captain: Luke Bowyer
Coach: Rick Turncinovic
New: Michael Fahy (Bayswater), Dale McGrath (Boronia)
Chances: Fahy will add serious fire-power to The Basin's attack this season and with the majority of last year's side returning it could be a good season for the club. Like many clubs in the FTGDCA, winning close matches will decide if The Basin plays finals.
Captain-coach: Scott Vozzo
New: Aaron Daniel (Rowville), Steve Batty (Box Hill)
Chances: The Magpies believe the additions of Daniel and Batty to the middle-order plus their current crop of players can deliver them into the finals this season. After missing out by just a game last year the Magpies aren't too far away. How they play in close matches will define their success.