Wingham v Port Pirates in season opener

Michael Rees.
Michael Rees.

Wingham Cricket Club enters the 2018/19 season looking to build upon the successes of the inaugural Premier League competition where they made the grand final, only to be denied the opportunity to win the title due to rain.

Ben Scowen will again captain the Premier League side, although he has gained employment elsewhere and his appearances may be limited.  In his absence, Michael Rees will take the reins.

The nucleus of the side remains with Ben Cole, Brock Hynes, Michael and David Rees, Brad Staff and Mick Stinson all backing up for another campaign. Hayden Essery hopes to be available until the new year when he joins the Wests Tigers. Young quick Josh McTaggart is recovering from a knee operation and will be unable to bowl until Christmas. His position with the new ball should be taken by Ryan Smoothy who continues to show promise.

New players to the club include talented 17 year old Gloucester batsman Harrison Clarke who is looking to test himself in a stronger competition. The right hand middle order batsman is also a handy medium pacer and can wicket keep if required.

Nearing the other end of his career cycle is Darryl Bridgeman, of the Atherton Crusaders Club in North Queensland. A veteran all-rounder who bats right hand and bowls left arm mediums could also be handy.

On the debit side Josh Davis is a loss, although he only played a hand full of games last year. He has elected to re-sign with his home club at Bunnan in the upper Hunter comp.

Wingham commence their campaign at Cedar Party Reserve on Saturday against last years tailenders, Port Panthers Pirates, who did not win a game. But they will be a much improved outfit this year having reportedly bolstered their depth.

Second Grade won the competition last season under the leadership of Jake Mullen, who backs up as skipper. Dennis Smith and Rhys Kleindeinst, who has transferred to Gunnedah, will be missing but their loss will be tempered by the return of Mitch Niven who returns after a year off. Ryan Morris, Blake Sky and Liam O’Neill are again expected to have good seasons. Their first opponent is Great Lakes at Tuncurry.

Jay Mitchell takes over from Jade Stace as Third Grade skipper and he should have a mixture of experience and youth at his disposal led by Daryl Irvine and the returning Paul Kelly. Veterans Scott Blanch and Bruce Bird are undecided at this stage but a host of youngsters are sure to thrive. They take on Old Bar first up at Ken Malpass Oval, however the game may be transferred to Central Park.