City United unveil a new-look side on Saturday with five players making their first grade debuts for the reigning premiers against last year’s grand final opponents Northern Suburbs.
Norths will also field a vastly different side from last year’s grand final, with fast bowling trio Lincoln Mills, Ben Sayers unavailable and Mitch Field is having a delayed start to the year recovering from knee surgery.
All-rounder Tim Prescott is also taking a year out of cricket.
City United recruits Michael Heinrich (Kurri-Weston), Ricky Dent (Thornton), Brad Bidner (Paterson) and Tim Baker (Raworth Rabbitohs) are all included in City’s first grade X! for the first time.
City have also handed exciting 15-year-old bowler Jock Vivers his first cap in the top side.
Skipper Matt Trappel said people around the club were struggling to remember when or if so many players had made their first grade debut on the same day.
“There’s a fair bit of excitement around the club with so many players starting at once and also being our first game of the year,” Trappel said.
“We are all pretty excited for young Jock Vivers to be making his debut. He certainly deserves it after playing in second grade for most of last season.
“He has been training the house down and bowled very well in our trial game against Newcastle City.
“The guys who have come into the club Michael Heinrich, Ricky Dent, Brad Bidner and Tim Baker have brought a real enthusiasm with them and are keen to cement spots in first grade.
“You don’t know how things will go with so many new players coming into the club, but things have really gelled well, everyone is getting on real well.
“Ricky and Heiney will open the batting for us and Brad will probably come in at three or four. It makes our top order look a lot more solid and means there will be a lot of competition for spots.
“Anru Kriel and Tim Burton aren’t available this week, so there’s plenty of quality ready to come back in.”
Trappel said he was looking forward to seeing Baker, who took a memorable five wickets in a row for Raworth last season, in action.
“I think Tim and Brad were both looking for a new challenge. Both of them have first grade experience and are full of enthusiasm,” he said.
“I’m also really excited about bowling Heiney and Nick Bower together. They are two of the best spinners in the competition and will complement each other really well.
“I reckon they will cause all sorts of headaches for opposition teams.”
Trappel is in good form himself, compiling a fine 39 in a losing Hunter Hitmen team against Newcastle Blasters in the Regional Big Bash last weekend.
“I suppose the overall result was disappointing, but the Maitland based players in the Hitmen all showed good form at times,” he said.
Trappel said Norths will miss Mills, who won the player of the tournament award in the Big Bash series as well as Sayers and Mitch Field from this weekend’s grand final rematch.
“Norths has a way of producing great bowlers and they will be able to call on Callum Gabriel, Cael Smith who joined the club from Singleton, Tim Field and Rex Greaves this week,” he said.
“You can take three quality bowlers out of their team and they don’t lose much. On the batting side they welcome back Will Fort, who made heaps of runs at the under-17 national carnival and was named in the Australian side, Mike Wilson and Luke Stewart to name a few.”
First round winners Eastern Suburbs and Western Suburbs both showed they will be firmly in finals calculations and will be eager to bank winning points when they meet at East Maitland Park on Saturday.
The shadow of Wests’ No.3 Aaron Mahony looms large over this contest coming off a century (134 off 130 balls) in the Plovers’ opening round win against Thornton.
Andrew Trappel made a quick fire 31 at the top of the order, but new joint captain Tom Irwin had a rare failure going for a duck and if he can get into the runs Wests could challenge their round one total of 5/272.
The formidable batting line-up will be further strengthened by Michael Rees’ return and all-round Matthew Shone makes his debut.
Easts have plenty of batting and bowling talent, batting well down to No.9 and an array of all-rounders as well as premier pacemen Dallas Crane and Brendan Allen.
Josh Hicks was the pick of the all-rounders in round one claiming 5-37 and making 29, however, Easts will be expecting big returns from Park brothers Jayden and Trent as well as 16-year-old Matt Lynch.
In the other game Kurri Weston host Thornton at Kurri Central with both teams chasing their first win.