Last season’s runners up Easts are hoping to go one better this year with heavy competition for places among their ranks.
The side welcome back Tyson Burey, Dean Moore and Sam Constance who last played with the squad in their 2015-16 grand final triumph over Hillgrove.
Burey and Constance will join captain Sam Uphill, Matt Jackson, Brandon Burey and young gun Jackson Gwynne in Easts’ already-strong bowling stocks while Moore adds much needed depth in the batting.
Sam Uphill will skipper the side again this season and said signs are promising with a host of players battling to stay in the top grade.
“It actually boosts our second grade a lot too. There will probably be a few spots that will be contended all year which will be very nice,” he said.
“Sam Constance is back and then we had to get him re-graded because he has had a season off and we had our three quicks in first grade so we had to get him re-graded to second grade so there will be a bit of competition there.
“I don't think [Gwynne] has had an off season.
“He's had to bowl a certain amount of overs every week so he is fit and raring to go.
“We had him and Tyson in the nets a couple of Sundays ago and there was a little bit of competition there between the two of them to see who is quicker.”
To open their season, Easts play Barbarians who entered the competition last season and finished within one game of the grand final.
Uphill said he expects – should the Baa Baas turn up to play – they will be a dangerous prospect once again.
“I think they will be fairly similar to last year so they will be the darkhorses of the competition,” he said.
“They're the sort of side that will take the game away from you in 10 minutes if you're not careful so they will be good.”
In a contrast to Uphill’s side hitting the nets to prepare for a solid start to the season, Brad Rafferty’s Barbarians will team stick to a training regime which worked for them all last season.
“That's not our style, we just rock up,” he said.
“What's the worst that can happen?
“There's usually at least one or two that get us out of trouble.”
Like most teams stepping out this season, Rafferty’s team will sport a new look this season.
“We have five or six left out of our team from last year,” he said.
“There's plenty of young fellas there that can step up, they used to be part-time bowlers but now they're going to get a bit more practice.”
- More cricket previews pages 18 and 19.