After an off-season with plenty of developments, the tried and true squad of Celtic will still be the one to catch when the South Canterbury cricket season gets underway today.
While teams looked to pick up new players from the defunct Geraldine senior lineup, a new team emerged at Roncalli College and other teams scrambled to entice players to spend their 2010-2011 season in their colours, Celtic have largely stuck with the same squad which gave them a clean-sweep of the South Canterbury cricket trophies last season.
Captain Craig Davies said that having a stellar season last year would not add any pressure to his team which stacked full of South Canterbury representatives again this season.
He said the club had strength in the lower grades, and it should help them get through the weeks when most of the team is on representative duty.
Davies will also have many eyes on him after his fantastic last season, where he scored 1190 runs, including two centuries for the representative side.
He said the statistics would hopefully take care of themselves.
“You have to be confident, but I try not to put to much pressure on myself and hopefully everything will work out.”
Their opponents today, Star, will be looking to produce consistent form through putting a consistent line-up on the field.
Captain Phil McGregor said with five university students, the club had decided to offer petrol vouchers in an effort to get a regular team.
He said the emphasis will go on their top six batsmen to score runs.
“In this kind of competition you need guys scoring 500 to 700 runs in a season and we just haven’t had that.”
He said he would like to see batsman George Harper get among the runs, while the inclusion of retired South Canterbury captain Todd Elliotte and the probable inclusion of representative pace-bowler Craig Hinton, should see the team being serious challengers for all three titles.
Newcomers Roncalli College will generate the most interest, however, they have been hampered with adult players Craig Hinton and Simon Woofindin indecisive about joining.
Teacher in charge Dave Mills said all the boys had the talent to impress, but need a guiding adult or two to help them out.
“We will rely pretty heavily on [captain] Jacob [Naylor] to score runs for us.”
Andrew Brooks and Matt Dorgan should offer good line and length bowling.
Waimate will be looking to upset the more fancied teams, and have one of the brightest young prospects in Glen Drake.
Drake, who won the best under 16 players award last season, is likely to bat in the first four.
Captain Jason Sew Hoy said they would be striving for constancy in the batting, and believed the shorter forms of the game would be best for them.
Timaru have stuck with a similar squad to last year, with South Canterbury representative Jordon Morrow being the key to their efforts.
Captain Hayden Butler said the batting should be stronger than last year and they were a better all-round squad, who would look to use their willingness to hit the ball hard to make an impact in the limited overs cricket.
Temuka were the real surprise two-day finalists last year, but captain Richie Preston said they would be looking to do it again this year.
He said their bowling would still rely heavily on Kevin Teahen, but with the inclusion of Hayden Broker from retirement and David Fisher to the top-order, they should have more runs on the board this season.