The 2016-17 Tasmanian Cricket League is scheduled to start on Saturday with 16 clubs fielding a combined 43 teams across five grades – Premier League, A-grade, A-Reserve, B-grade and C-grade.
The competition’s top grade will start off with two weekends of Twenty20 pool matches with Longford, Hadspen, ACL and Trevallyn in one group and Beauty Point, Cressy, Tigers and Diggers in the other.
Teams will earn two premiership points for a T20 win with the grand final to be held at Hadspen on a Thursday to be confirmed. The 40-over Premier League matches will commence in round 4. This season Legana and Perth have been relegated from the top-level and replaced by reigning A-grade grand finalist Cressy and ACL.
COACH: John Kedey.
CAPTAIN: Sean Barry.
LAST YEAR: A-grade runners-up.
INS: John Kedey (Westbury).
WESTBURY premiership player John Kedey will guide ACL on their return to the TCL’s top competition after a short hiatus in A-grade.
Kedey said last season’s runners-up were ready for the promotion which had created excitement around the University Oval-based outfit.
“It’s going to be a challenge with a lot of the core group jumping to a higher grade but it is one we are prepared for,” he said.
“We are obviously going to need to improve in a lot of key areas in our cricket to be competitive and we are going in as an open book – anything is possible.”
Kedey said captain and all-rounder Sean Barry and Drew Clark would be key batsmen with Simon Chappell and Ben Stonehouse their leading strike bowlers.
He said there were no real standouts and that their fielding would be a key focus.
COACHES: Jason Savage and Max Turner.
LAST YEAR: Fourth.
BEAUTY Point are a side that are never far off from pinching a flag and co-coach Jason Savage said his charges would be “thereabouts” again this season.
He said the 2015-16 A-grade champions have lost no personnel with Savage and Rob Eltringham again the Tigers’ linchpins along with strike bowler Beau Hills.
The duo combined to amass more than 1100 runs last year.
“We’re in a pretty good position having finished amongst them last year but we had our worst game to finish on,” Savage said.
“We’ve added a couple of bowlers and batsman this year so things are looking OK. We’re a team of all-rounders.”
He believed a lot of challengers from last season had dropped off and singled out reigning premiers Longford as the team to hunt.
CAPTAIN-COACH: Jono Goss.
LAST YEAR: A-grade premiers.
INS: Logan Wright (Bridgenorth), Ashley Johnson (Cressy), David Radeski (interstate) and Ashley Johnson (Tigers), Josh Watson and Jock Gibson (South Launceston).
HAVING only joined the TCL last season, Cressy have endured a rapid rise.
The club has earned a promotion to Premier League this season following their 2015-16 A-grade premiership and captain-coach Jono Goss is confident his players are up for the challenge.
He said Cressy would again rely on experienced due Sam Graham and Paul Bassett as well as recruits Josh Watson and Jock Gibson from Cricket North club South Launceston.
“We are hoping they will step up for us… Josh and Jock are both all-rounders,” Goss said.
“Big Sammy Luttrell, Sam Henley will be important for us with the ball.
“It will be a reasonably even competition with Longford, Hadspen and Beauty Point the front three.”
Cressy have also picked up former Bridgenorth bowler Logan Wright, David Radeski from interstate and all-rounder Ashley Johnson from Tigers.
Goss said he gave the two-team club every chance to make the top four.
“We play a fairly aggressive style for cricket with both the ball and bat and that’s the way we will go about it this year,” Goss said.
CAPTAIN-COACH: Paul Fruin.
LAST YEAR: Sixth.
INS: Simon Thomas (Tigers).
OUTS: Jacob Walker (Hadspen) and Craig Wegman (Bishopsbourne).
DIGGERS have looked internally to strengthen their Premier League squad for this year’s campaign.
After a sixth place finish last season captain-coach Paul Fruin is hopeful a finals berth is on the cards this time around. “We were pretty close last year and I don't think the club has ever had a top-grade team make the finals,” Fruin said.
“Because we have dropped back from four teams to three, we have recruited from within the club with a few handy players that couldn’t play Saturday’s last year standing up.
“It’s going to be an open race from third to sixth and for the last two finals spots, which is pretty exciting for us.” He said club veterans Andrew Bassett and Deon French would step up along with returning all-rounder Simon Thomas from Tigers.
Fruin said the batting line-up world be reliant on assistant coach Jai Cooley and reigning club best and fairest Adam Davie.
“Andy Bassett is the club’s leading wicket taker and he will be the main weapon along with Scott and Adam Davie,” he said.
COACH: Scott Driessen.
CAPTAIN: Liam Reynolds.
LAST YEAR: Third.
INS: Nathan Balym (Trevallyn), Jacob Walker (Diggers), Alan Eadie, Paul Costello (Mowbray) and Nick Price (Perth).
OUTS: Zak Barber (Mowbray), Brenton Gale (not playing), Jason Tarrant (Longford), Tommy Walker (Evandale).
HADSPEN coach Scott Driessen admits his side finished last season in disappointing fashion but is confident the Chieftains can improve this time around.
He said the club has recruited well for a title challenge with former Trevallyn opener Nathan Balym signing on to partner 2015-16 competition MVP Damien Woods at the top.
Both Balym (719) and Wood (620) were in the top three run scorers last season.
Driessen said the acquisition of Mowbray premiership players Alan Eadie (off-spinner) and Paul Costello (batsman) would also fill voids and “hopefully” project the club into a grand final position.
“Jacob Walker, who is a young left-arm fast bowler with a lot of potential, is also on board and will strengthen our bowling – an area we have struggled in,” Driessen said.
“Eadie will partner leg-spinner Matthew Green perfectly, while Costello will strengthen the middle order.
“We have brought in talent and experience… we will be a well-rounded team.”
Driessen said Longford would again be the team to beat with uncertainty surrounding newcomers Cressy and ACL.
All-rounder Liam Reynolds will captain the Premier League side with Woods to be his deputy.
CAPTAIN-COACH: Josh Adams.
LAST YEAR: Premiers.
INS: Jason Tarrant (Hadspen), Justin Curbishley (Westbury), Kieran Davey (Evandale), Chris Jacobs and Dean Cousens (returning).
OUTS: Haydn Scott (injury).
THE reigning premiers are not taking last year’s success for granted and are hungry to go back-to-back.
Captain-coach Josh Adams said he expects his charges to be “thereabouts again” with consistent cricket the key to their destiny.
“Justin Curbishley from Westbury is a right-arm swing bowler and big hitter and will be handy for us along with Kieran Davey and Dean Cousens,” Adams said.
“We may be a batsman or two short at the start of the season with a few guys unavailable but our strength is definitely our bowling and has been for the past year or two.”
“We have got some good depth so there is going to be pressure for spots.”
Adams earmarked Hadspen and Beauty Point as the Tigers’ main challengers.
He said the club could not afford to play on the back of last season’s Premier League, Twenty20 and A-Reserve flags and that they must again earn the rewards.
Last season’s league leading wicket taker Brett Martin (34) is going around again with Adams keen to grow his 2015-16 51.29 season batting average.
Other important cogs include opener Shannon Rumbel, wicket-keeper batsman Jackson Blair and bowler Robert Moore.
He said premiership player Haydn Scott underwent a knee reconstruction during the off-season and would miss out the year.
COACH: Matthew Devlin.
CAPTAIN: Luke Richards.
LAST YEAR: Fifth.
INS: Kyle Strochnetter (Burnie), Curtis King (Yolla), Michael Quill, Leigh Sheppard (returning).
OUTS: Shane Evans, Matty Wells, Dylan Sharman, Jason Ellis (Legana), Jai Burke, Jarrod Wells, Richard Austin (retired), Ashley Johnson (Cressy) and Simon Thomas (Diggers).
LUKE Richards will lead the club alongside new coach Matthew Devlin for a tilt at the Premier league title.
A large number of players including former coach Matty Wells, star batsman Shane Evans and Dylan Sharman have left Faulkner Park bound for Legana, but Devlin is not fussed choosing to harness the club’s youth.
Michael Quill and Leigh Sheppard have returned to assist Devlin, while Tigers’ 2015-16 leading bowler Jai Burke (25) has pulled up stumps.
However, the club have picked up left-arm paceman Kyle Strochnetter and big-hitter Curtis King from the North-West Coast.
Devlin said Richards was a key component of their batting stocks with Zac Barwick and Dale Quarrell their leading bowlers.
“We will focus on heading into the Christmas in a good position from which we can make a run at the finals,” Devlin said.
“We have been putting a lot of effort into our youth and teaching them the right way to go about it – setting club up for the future.
“We’ve stressed the importance of batting 40 overs, bowling to a set field and most importantly improving the way we go about our cricket.”
CAPTAIN: Glen Gleeson.
LAST YEAR: Runners-up.
INS: Jason and John Stoltenberg (Evandale), Shaun Richardson (Hadspen) and Brett Charlton.
OUTS: Damien Whybrow, Arlen Thompson, Wayne Ford, Jye Balym, Matty Woods (Launceston), Matthew Shipp (retired), Stuart Brown (Legana), Nathan Balym (Hadspen).
THE reigning runners-up and perennial contenders are without a coach and have been decimated by an exodus of top-end talent.
Glen Gleeson and Zac Tatnell, who has been ruled out for season 2016-17 with a broken leg, are the only remaining Premier League players from last season’s squad.
Premiership captain-coach Damien Whybrow has moved to Launceston along with several others.
“A-Reserve and Sunday players have agreed to step-up and help the club out,” president Steve Cocker said.
“We will be making a coaching announcement next week.”