This year’s two Cricket North premiership favourites will get an early look at each other during the Greater Northern Cup’s opening round on Saturday.
LAUNCESTON and WESTBURY will start season 2018-19 with a highly-anticipated 50-over bout at NTCA No.1 Ground.
Shamrocks skipper Richard Howe said he would be without the services of Oliver Wood, Jake Williams (Greater Northern Raiders duties), Jono Champan, Daniel Murfet (away) and the injured Matt Battle.
However, he said the returning Nick Spencer and Alex Kerrison would play alongside recruits Will Donald, Corey Briggs and Jared Mason.
“Our depth will be tested but we should be able to cover our losses. The first few rounds are always a ‘see how you go’ sort of thing,” Howe said.
“We’re hoping to win two of our first four matches – that would be a good start from where we were last year. I expect Launnie, who gave us a good shake in the semi-final, to have improved on last year and they are always competitive.
“Our exception is always to win but we’ll just have to see how we go.”
Lions coach Alistair Taylor said he rates Westbury as the team to beat this Cricket North season.
Taylor, Tom Gray and Lachie Newland are out due to Raiders’ selection, but Taylor is confident his selected team can match it with the best.
“Early on it’s about doing the basics really well and making sure you bat 50 overs and plug away in good areas with the ball – especially on an underdone wicket,” he said.
“If we can do that we’re a chance. We will take it game-by-game and looking to get wins from our four home games straight up.”
Across the Tamar River at Windsor Park, RIVERSIDE will blood three debutants against MOWBRAY.
Blues skipper Tom Garwood said state under-17 bowler Sam Artis, spinner Cooper Anthes and batsman Matt Owens would all play their maiden first-grade match.
“We are excited to be giving those guys a chance to have a crack and it’s a great thing for our club going forward,” Garwood said.
“They have all trained really hard through winter.
“We have no idea of what Mowbray are going to be like … but it’s a game of cricket at the end of the day so we’ve just got to play the way we want to and hopefully get the win first up.
“We are a very young side and finals are our end goal, so Greater Northern Cup wins to set us up post-Christmas are key.”
The Eagles were contacted for comment.
Reigning two-time Cricket North premiers SOUTH LAUNCESTON has the bye.