The 2009–2010 cricket season begins this Saturday Oct 10th with Senior, Senior Reserve, Second and Presidents Grades getting under way, and the Women’s and Fourth Grade competitions start a week later.

The new season sees some exciting changes for cricketers and supporters in the South Canterbury region. Aorangi will again host first class cricketers with a Twenty20 match scheduled for January 13th between Canterbury and Central Districts. The game will be starting at 5.00pm so people can leave work and come along for an evenings entertainment, with the Black Caps all expected to be playing as well. Other first class matches are also being negotiated for the holiday season.

The SC Senior representative team will also be looking forward to the challenge of playing Hawke Cup matches in the Southern Zone which will mean an improved standard of opposition.

Locally there have been some significant changes to the senior grade, where a Twenty20 competition has been incorporated into the season. Teams will play two matches a day in the early rounds and a finals day will see all six teams play off at Aorangi Oval. Matches are scheduled to be played at one venue, so these rounds may also be a great day out for spectators too.

The Daily Freightways One Day Competition has also been tinkered with to include a semi-final scenario where the top four teams from the round robin play off for the two final spots, which means that fourth qualifier can still make and win the final, keeping interest for each team alive throughout the early rounds.

The Tweedy Cup has also undergone significant changes to the rules this season. As there is now only one round of two day games, the main focus of the changes is to avoid the occurrence of long drawn out matches that soon lose player and spectator interest alike. This season both teams must declare after the completion of fifty overs in the first innings and bonus points are only available in the second innings.

Points available have also been restructured to encourage outright results and the reduction in overs to be bowled per day should negate the late night finishes seen last season.

The first round of the senior competition is for the Daily Freightways Trophy currently held by Celtic, and in November Geraldine will begin their defence of the Tweedy Cup when the two day competition commences.

The senior draw sees some great match ups in the first round with Trophy holders Celtic playing last season’s runners-up Star at home on ‘The Rock’, Tweedy Cup holders Geraldine will square off with Waimate at home and Temuka come to town to take on Timaru at Ashbury Park.

The off-season has seen little movement of players with Celtic strengthened by the return of Craig Davies after a good season in England (and minus crutches), Paddy Farr back from Australia will help the bowling attack, while the experience gained last season by youngsters Sam Carlaw, Kelvin Emmerson and Jared Woolfindon will be invaluable, and a strong squad that includes the mercurial Dan Laming and brother James alongside the Scott brothers and Luke Taylor should keep pressure on most opposition. Missing will be the chirpy Mark Tutton, but nevertheless Celtic will be the team to beat.

While Geraldine is the defending Tweedy Cup champion, they may be a mixed bag this season. Matt Barnes the English professional has returned after a good “off-season” in England and will continue to help their batting strength, but they have lost the services of Stephen Pagan and will only have Hamish Drennan occasionally. Also many of their younger players will miss early games until University finishes.

In Waimate although there have been no notable gains, the return of Matt Devlin from Australia certainly helps the bowling attack and batting depth, while the loss of the experienced Reuben Alan, Matthews brothers Hayden and Jarred and Richard Ford certainly leaves some gaps in the line-up.

 Temuka will again struggle for numbers in the early part of the season with some players still involved with the ever encroaching rugby season, but led by Kevin Teahen, a leading senior bowler for many seasons and supported by Dillon Lees and with the return of Simon Attridge they will no doubt win more matches than expected.

Star will again be looking to avoid the “chokers” tag, after finishing second in both competitions last season. They will expect Phil McGregor, SC captain Todd Elliotte, Paul Arkinstall and Chris Anders to score heavily while a bowling line-up that includes Craig Hinton, Jeremy Lane, Elliotte, Tim Butler, Hamish Dickson and Mark Evans is the envy of many teams.

Timaru will have a different look this season after stalwart and former South Canterbury player and coach Chris Leonard has finally pulled stumps after 33 seasons of senior cricket. Although we wish him well on the golf course, no one quite believes that he won’t appear at some stage this coming season. Timaru have also lost opener Robbie Rankin with a hand injury but are looking forward to the return from India of all rounder Srinivas KS after a year’s absence.

Hayden Leonard will lead the team with the ball, while Jordan Morrow helps the attack as well as occasionally featuring with the bat and Grant Brookland, Gerald Piddock, Tim Mackle, Hayden Butler and Zane Sanders will be expected to provide the bulk of the runs.

Let’s hope the weather plays its part in an exciting season ahead!

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