Bunbury and Districts Cricket Association: Hear from the captains ahead of Saturday’s season opening round

Headshot of Jackson Barrett
Jackson BarrettSouth Western Times
Email Jackson Barrett
The Bunbury and Districts Cricket Association season begins on Saturday.
Camera IconThe Bunbury and Districts Cricket Association season begins on Saturday. Credit: Jackson Barrett

Reigning Bunbury and District Cricket Association premiers Eaton will have to wait a week to begin their title defence, but round one is set to put some of the challengers in the spotlight.

Colts and Marist headline Saturday’s opening games with a bumper clash at Forrest Park, while a Donnybrook side packed with new names will look to take an early scalp on the road against Leschenault and Hay Park host Dalyellup as they embark on a rebuild.

Jackson Barretthas taken a look at how each of the seven first-grade clubs are shaping up ahead of the 2021-22 summer of cricket.

Eaton

They’ve got a new name and a couple of fresh faces, but Eaton will be hoping they end this season with the same result, as they embark on a first-grade premiership defence for just the second time in the club’s history.

Australian Country XI representative Julian Crudeli will boost what is an already menacing pace attack, joining fellow quicks Liam Renton and Jacob Wintle, meaning the Bobtails can expect 30 overs of some of the competition’s fiercest pace bowling.

But their batting line-up will also be boosted by the return to full-time cricket of Matt Foreman and the addition of former Warnbro Swans player Kaine May and Lesmurdie-Mazenod batsman Ben Simpson.

Julian Crudeli has signed with the Eaton Bobtails.
Camera IconJulian Crudeli has signed with the Eaton Bobtails.

Captain Clayton Caltsounis, who last year became a two-time premiership player at the club, said the new signings should have his side playing in the finals again.

“This year it’s about maintaining that standard and we know if we play to that standard we’re a chance to be around the mark again,” he said.

Bringing Crudeli into their pace attack means Caltsounis will have 30 overs of some of the competition’s most threatening fast bowling to fall back on each game.

“All three of them aren’t too fussed about who gets the new ball or who has to bowl through the middle overs,” he said.

Marist

When Marist open their season at home against Colts on Saturday, last year’s runners-up will have a new look.

And it will start at the top of the order, with the club losing opening batsman Corey Fagan in the off-season, while all-rounder Jordan Stynes is set to take a break from cricket.

But Marist skipper Kyle Davis says he has his eye on a couple of young charges who look poised to cement their spot in the club’s first-grade side.

Marist batter Hayden Slodecki.
Camera IconMarist batter Hayden Slodecki.

“Cole Sawyer and Bailey Wooton, who played a fair bit of second grade last year, they should be getting opportunities early in the season or at least be pushing for selection,” he said.

“Cole will play as a top-order batsman, absolutely.”

The Blues face Colts for the George Goodwin Shield on Saturday and Davis says having silverware on the line is a nice bit of extra motivation heading into the clash.

“There is always a good rivalry between the two clubs, both Bunbury clubs and teams that have been successful over a long period of time,” he said.

“To play for a shield in the first game back is a nice opportunity to start the season well.”

Colts

After a disappointing early exit from last season’s finals series, Colts face a middle-order selection headache, with some strong additions joining a host of youngsters who gained first-grade experience last year.

The club secured the services of big-hitting country star Bevan Bennell, while they regain Brian Hughes, who spent a season with Dalyellup.

The pair join the likes of cricket legend Murray Goodwin and all-rounder Cruize Ciallella in a stacked middle order.

“Bev is a huge recruit for the club, we have been chasing him for a couple of years,” Colts captain Josh Topliss said.

Bevan Bennell pulls to the square boundary, playing for Great Boulder.
Camera IconBevan Bennell pulls to the square boundary, playing for Great Boulder. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr/Kalgoorlie Miner, Tom Zaunmayr

“He will strengthen up that batting line-up alongside Muzz, Cruize and Riley Miguel, and the same thing with Brian.

“We are going to have to make some tough calls.”

The club loses opening bowler Tyler King to WACA club Claremont-Nedlands, but Topliss said fellow young guns Nich Wilson and Bryn Bursill, who are both also in State programs, are ready to fill the void.

“Nich Wilson and Bryn Bursill, we are expecting really big years out of both of them, so we feel like we have enough depth to cover the loss,” he said.

Hay Park

The Redbacks are set for a fresh injection of youth this season, with the club set to unleash a number of youngsters on the first-grade competition.

According to captain Steven Florance, it means a number of other players, including pace bowler Dylan Gordon, will need to take the next step.

“We will go with a much younger squad this year,” he said.

“We expect a bit more out of Dylan Gordon, who is now a senior player, and obviously Grant Millbanke.

Hay Park celebrate a Heinrich Helm wicket against Marist at Forrest Park last season.Picture: Justin Fris
Camera IconHay Park celebrate a Heinrich Helm wicket against Marist at Forrest Park last season.Picture: Justin Fris Credit: Justin Fris

Florance said he expects Jonah Lincoln, Liam Cox and Caleb Millbanke to spend time in their first-grade squad this year, while the Redbacks will also add highly touted Collie youngster and Adam Worrley.

“We will have a more consistent side this year, for having those young guys in it,” Florance said.

Hay Park finished fourth last year, defeating Colts in the first week of the finals.

Donnybrook

New Donnybrook Cricket Club captain Bradman May says it will be spin to win this summer for his side, who have added last season’s Goodwin-Dehring medallist Adam Bilston to their ranks.

With vice-captain Shaun Towers and young gun Izaak Bedford, May hopes his new spin-bowling all-rounder will help put the clamp on batting teams in the middle overs.

“He’s still quite young but he’s got a lot of experience playing high-level cricket,” May said.

Bradman May will take over the captaincy at Donnybrook this season.
Camera IconBradman May will take over the captaincy at Donnybrook this season. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

“We are going to be a little bit different, we are going to try and lock it up in the middle to late overs with Shaun, Adam and Izaak.

“They can all be very good bowlers on their day so hopefully they can lock up those middle overs and we get 30 overs of spin going at three runs an over.

“I think that’s what is going to be winning games for us this season.”

The club’s new-look leadership group are also set to bring youth to the fore of the first-grade side, with May taking over from Paul Reynolds and Towers stepping in as his deputy.

“Shaun and I have been mates since we played juniors together so it is pretty exciting that we can do this together,” May said.

“I’ll be the name and the face but I’ll be leaning on a lot of other guys.”

Leschenault

After just two wins last season, the Green Caps are set to welcome back club stalwart and former skipper Tom Buchanan.

Buchanan took a year off last summer, but will be a welcome addition to Matt Fink’s side who had to tinker with their top order a number of times during the middle part of last summer.

The club has also added former Country XI cricketer and Subiaco Football Club legend Clancy Wheeler to its ranks.

Former captain Tom Buchanan has returned to Leschenault.
Camera IconFormer captain Tom Buchanan has returned to Leschenault.

Like Donnybrook, who they face in week one, spin looks likely to be a key factor for Leschenault this year, with Matt Bowles and Shehzad Gondal looming as wicket-taking options.

Bowles took 20 wickets from just 10 games last season at an average of less than 15, while Gondal provided good support with 16 and both tweakers bagged six-wicket hauls.

With the bat, the hard-hitting Steve Denison was their only player inside the top 10 run-scorers last season and will be a factor again, especially if he is given a spot at the top of the order again, a role he moved into late last season.

Dalyellup

Thrown into the captaincy after the off-season departure of Adam Bilston, new skipper Zane Verhaaf says “belief” will be at the core of his side this year.

Set to be the youngest team in the competition having lost Bilston and keeper-batter Brian Hughes, Verhaaf believes the support of younger teammates will be key in his first year as captain.

“We sort of sat down with the younger guys and a lot of them said, ‘We are going to stick our hands up and challenge ourselves this year, rather than sitting back’,” he said.

“Obviously last year a lot of our side were debutants, but to get a full season into them last year will help this season.”

Dalyellup have lost young wicket-keeper Brian Hughes, who has returned to Colts. Jack Gibellini
Camera IconDalyellup have lost young wicket-keeper Brian Hughes, who has returned to Colts. Jack Gibellini

Bilston was the competition’s third leading run-scorer last season, averaging more than 40, while Hughes, who has rejoined Colts, averaged 28.

Dalyellup won two games last year, the same number as Leschenault, but were consigned to the wooden spoon.

The club has now also dropped out of second grade, meaning youngsters making their first-grade debut will now have a significant jump to make.

“We just feel like we’re better off getting their confidence up rather than running with a young side in first grade and a young side in second grade,” Verhaaf said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails