Last season’s Lithgow District Cricket first grade premiers Lidsdale Lions will not take part in the upcoming competition due to a lack of players.
The runaway champions of the 2016/17 season did not nominate a side for the top grade at Monday night’s delegates meeting with several of their best players opting to test themselves in Bathurst and Sydney.
Opening bowler Josh Howarth and gun batsman Ryan Gurney have decided to play for Bathurst Centennials while former captain Brendan Roach will be working weekends this summer.
A combination of retirements and work commitments also led to Lidsdale’s decision to leave their premiership undefended.
Lidsdale’s absence has thrown the competition wide open for the other sides however last season’s runners-up Lithgow Hotel should be the red-hot favourites.
According to former Lithgow Hotel first grader and club selector Quentin Kidd, this year’s side is streets ahead of their team that contested the grand final in March.
“When the full first grade compliment is there at the end of October, they’re a much stronger team on paper than we were last year given the injection of the players coming in,” Kidd said.
“I don’t want to jynx us but I would be saying humbly, unless the other clubs have had an injection of very good players I can’t see us not at least getting to the GF and probably going one better this year.”
Players such as wicketkeeper Brandan Horner and two allrounders from the Blue Mountains in Nick Taylor and Clint Rochester are set to give the Hotel side an enormous boost.
”We like the challenge of playing Lidsdale, they were the best team last year by far… It would have been nice to get a good challenge and actually beat them,” Kidd said.
Valley Cricket club will be playing under a different captain this season with former skipper Ben Sheehan opting to play Sydney Grade Cricket with Hawkesbury.
He had a successful first outing notching up 82 runs coming in at number four for Hawkesbury’s fifth grade side.
Sheehan’s knock included 12 fours and two sixes in the game against Sydney.
The 2017/18 will begin on Saturday, October 14.
A total of 12 teams have put their hand up to compete across the two grades, one less than last season.
Five sides will take to the field in first grade including Lithgow Hotel, Valley, La Salle Hornets, Hampton and new side Portland.
Portland have made the move up from second grade and will look to give the top sides a shake with the help of a few returning players.
Seven sides have nominated for second division including Lidsdale Lions, La Salle Hornets, Valley, Portland, Hampton and two teams from Lithgow Hotel.
Lithgow Hotel’s second grade sides are also looking positive with the inclusion of several players who have been bumped out of the first grade side.
At the end of the regular season, the top four teams in first grade and the top six in second grade will go on to the finals.
The annual Brian Sharp ‘Chocko’ Sharp seven-a-side cricket knockout will take place on Saturday, December 16.