One favourite Celtic son may have left after last summer but one has returned in the hope of lending his knowledge to promising Roncalli College cricketers.
Celtic captain Craig Davies departed for Brisbane at the end of last season, but the man who held most of the South Canterbury batting records before him, Andrew Buckingham, has returned to guide the combined Celtic/Roncalli team into senior cricket which gets under way today.
The 36-year-old has returned to South Canterbury with his young family after more than a decade in the United Kingdom.
“It was time to bring the family back home and bring them up like I remember it,” he said.
The former South Canterbury representative batsman said he had been given the family’s approval to play cricket until Christmas.
“With another baby due in December, who knows if I’ll be allowed after that,” he joked.
He said he always hoped he would return to play senior cricket at some point and the opportunity to work with young players excited him.
“I didn’t want to come back and just play for Celtic,” he said. “While I love Celtic and probably wouldn’t go to another club, they [Roncalli] have some good young players coming through.
“Roncalli have four or five really good players who will benefit from senior cricket.”
Nick O’Brien, Adam Beck, Liam Beck, Conor Scott and Liam Cosgrove are all multisport athletes more than capable of making the step up to senior cricket.
Buckingham said they should be fine as long as they get used to the mental side of the game at senior level.
Celtic, who won the one-day and Twenty20 competitions last season, have a new captain in James Laming.
They will rely largely on the old firm of Dan Laming, spinner Sam Carlaw, veteran seamer Grant Watt and former Roncalli players Jacob Naylor and Tom Pavletich.
One player to watch will be pace bowler James Blackstock.
He was a regular wicket-taker last season and was on the cusp of South Canterbury selection.
Waimate look thin on numbers to start the season.
The team ironically won the 100-over competition last year, despite being against the long forms of the game.
They are without former captain Jason Sew Hoy and batsman Hayden Matthews, who have retired, while former South Canterbury bowler of the year, Alan Reid, is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
They will rely on captain Glen Drake with bat and ball.
Star had a strong finish to last season, winning five matches in a row, but in reality they have underperformed with the bat for the past two seasons.
Club stalwart Julian Blanchard will coach the team this year, but they have stuck with the same players with a general lack of recruitment.
The batting stocks will rely on Danny Campbell, Hamish Dickson, Henry Race and veteran Paul Arkinstall who returns for another season, postponing retirement in the process.
Temuka were beaten one-day finalists last year and look to have maintained most of their squad.
South Canterbury batsmen Ritchie Preston and Johnny Geddis should play more cricket for the Magpies this season, while Curtly Slatter adds an unknown quality to the top order.
The bowling will be spearheaded by Canterbury age-group player Nathan McNicol and the club’s leading wicket-taker Kevin Teahen.
Timaru are looking for a big season as they celebrate their 150th jubilee this month.
They will again have an influx of subcontinent players, while Jordy Morrow and Hayden Leonard should form a strong opening bowling partnership.
They will be led by Zane Sanders, who put more emphasis on his batting rather than his spin bowling last season.
SENIOR SQUADS FOR 2013-2014
Star: Jeremy Lane (c), Phil McGregor, Danny Campbell, Craig Hinton, Hamish Dickson, Henry Race, Glen Paul, Logan Hay, Paul Arkinstall, Matt Brown, Paul Walker, Matt Heywood, Adam Fahey, Alex McDuff, Michael Hogan. Coach: Julian Blanchard.
Celtic: James Laming (c), Dan Laming, Sam Carlaw, Jake Naylor, James Blackstock, Ben Watson, Tom Pavletich, Sean Kelliher, Grant Watt, Daniel Dorgan Andy Scott.
Roncalli/Celtic: Andrew Buckingham (c), Will Watts, Nick O’Brien, Adam Beck, Liam Beck, Conor Scott, Liam Cosgrove, Sean Mcleary, Mike Lees, Brett Walker.
Extended squad for both Celtic and Roncalli/Celtic: Josh Waud, Ryan De Joux, Nick Cahill, Glenn Matthews, Jared Wooffindin, Brad Gilbert, Ants de Joux, Jonny Shaw, Shane Richardson, Ben de Joux, Burns Mills, James Brosnahan, Mike de Joux, Sam Ellis.
Temuka: Kevin Teahen, Hayden Broker, Adrian Cunningham, Richie Preston, Nick Horsley, Willy Stone, Rory Lorimer, Johnny Geddies, Vaughan Tarrant, Robbie Histon, Nathan McNicol, Kevin Kerse, Che Latta, Nick Maguire, Kyle Montgomerie, Curtly Slatter.
Timaru: Zane Sanders (c), Josh Smallridge Timycen Maruma, Aditya Saha, Prabodha Arthavidu, Hayden Leonard, Brad Leonard, Josh Dick, Sam Wilson, Sam Porter, Nic Galway, Jordan Low, Vishal Saina, Tim Mackle, Dwayne Richardson, Jordy Morrow, Logan Taylor, Kane Whiteley, Jeremey Smallridge, Tim Butler.
Waimate: Glen Drake, Nathan Sew Hoy, Jared Stringer, Murray Prattley, Connor Farrell, Scott Willoughby, Lachie Robertson, Simon Murphy, Matthew Sew Hoy