With winter firmly in the rearview mirror, the focus of sport in Broken Hill shifts to cricket this weekend as the first round of A-Grade Barrier District Cricket League (BDCL) action gets underway.
As the playing surface at Jubilee Oval undergoes some final touches to ensure the pitch is in optimal condition for this cricket season, Alma Oval will host the opening round of fixtures. Last year’s runners-up, North, will take on Central on Saturday. South will host West on Sunday in a match that pits last year’s wooden spooners against last season’s premiers.
Ahead of the first round of A-Grade fixtures, the Barrier Truth spoke to each club to gauge their preparation for what promises to be a spectacular summer of cricket.
North captain Tobias Hack told us things have been building nicely at North during pre-season, and excitement for the start of the new campaign is at a fever pitch.
“There have been some itchy feet during footy season,” Hack told us before adding, “We’re a close-knit side and hopefully that shows on the field.”
When we asked the North captain about a player to watch this season – he was unequivocal. “Ben Jurd. He played a couple of games for us last year and has fit in well with the squad. It is like he has been here for ten years.”
“We are all really excited to see what he can do this year off the back of last season.”
At 23 years old, Ben Jurd is an all-rounder who is clever with the ball, and even better with the bat. He is expected to be first drop in the North line up.
Without a doubt, South Cricket Club head into the 2023/24 campaign as underdogs. Rather than using it as an excuse, it is something captain Ben Franklyn is looking to harness this season as they look to improve.
“We’re definitely the underdogs. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got with what we’ve got, and we won’t be lying down,” Franklyn told the Truth.
An injury to Matt Gray has not been ideal, but some strong recruitment in the off-season has seen them pick up former Central player Tristen Smith, and the South captain believes Smith can make a significant impact for the Roos.
“Tristan is a player that can absolutely devastate sides with the bat, ball and he is a wicket keeper. He’s a really good bloke, he carries himself really professionally and I think given some time in the middle, I think he’ll be the one to excel for us in A-grade this year.”
For reigning premiers West, it is a case of keeping the elite momentum of the past few seasons as they look to be the benchmark in the competition yet again.
There are no big heads amongst the West side, though and they are expecting 15 tough rounds of cricket this season, as captain Mackenzie Attard told us.
“It is a tough competition. We aren’t writing anyone off and there is no way we are writing our name on the trophy already. We are fully focussed on round one.”
The West captain singled out Max Everuss as a player to watch. Everuss had a dominant 22/23 season, and his captain expects him to pick up where he left off.
“He dominated last year, and I think this year he’ll to do the same. I reckon he might just pick up where he left off.”
At Central, last years vanquished semi-finalists, the ethos around the squad is to go a step further this year, and with some added depth President/ A Grade squad member Scott Mateer thinks it just might be possible, adding that rebuilding the winning culture that has been synonymous with Central for so long is the most immediate goal.
“Last year, our depth wasn’t the strongest, so really, our focus at the moment is rebuilding and getting that culture back around the club and we are getting to that.
“This season our depth is great, we have had 20 at training each week which is exciting, and we have had to leave players out for this weekend, but we’re really confident in the squad we have,” Mateer told the Truth.
As far as a player to watch, the Central president had no hesitation in nominating Connor Turley as a player who will turn a few heads this season.
“We blooded him (Turley) in A Grade last year and I reckon he’s grown half a foot since then. He’s coming in a lot faster, he’s a left armer. I reckon he is going to take a ton of wickets this season.”
Both first round A Grade matches will take place at Alma Oval, with Central facing North from 11am on Saturday and West taking on South the following day at the same time.