St Mary’s Cricket Club, the oldest club in the Busselton-Margaret River region, may have its best chance of breaking its 35-year Barnard Cup premiership drought when the A-Grade cricket season kicks off on Saturday, October 13.
The return of all-rounder Danny Hatton from Dunsborough and former House Medallist Ben Lloyd from retirement, and the recruit of batsman Nick Barr and medium-pacer Peter Morris will give the Saints a huge boost on paper going into the new season.
Swing bowler Peter Grygorcewicz has also signalled his availability for the whole summer for Saints, further boosting the bowling lineup.
Under new president Ben Mattock, Saints will also be looking for a new wicket keeper for their No. 1 side, after regular glovesman Kurt Davis decided to look for new challenges away from Busselton.
St Mary’s were formed in 1925 and won 19 premierships over their first 60 years – a figure which is still yet to be matched by any other club – but their last A-Grade flag was back in 1983-84 under Brian Earl’s captaincy.
Reigning A-Grade premiers YOBS will field a largely unchanged lineup this year under skipper Ben Payne, although last year’s popular Zimbabwean import Ardene Ruhode looks to be unavailable for the summer owing to commitments elsewhere.
Margaret River Hawks will be looking to continue their massive improvement from last season and will again endeavour to get the best of veterans such as Martin Head and Paul Tognolini as well as encouraging the young players to share in the success of the team.
Meanwhile, Cowaramup will this season become the first club in Busselton-Margaret River history to field an A-Grade side and a C-Grade side – but not a B-Grade side – after bowing to the pressure of a shortage of players.
The Busselton-Margaret River A-Grade competition will again feature five clubs this season, while the popular C-Grade competition will have eight sides, with Vasse, Augusta and Nannup joining the fray again.
But only a week out from the start of the season, the B-Grade competition is still in a state of uncertainty. Only four clubs – Saints, YOBS, Dunsborough and Hawks – are certain starters at this stage.
A new proposal, put by Cowaramup last month, even suggested that the C-Grade competition be scrapped and 12 sides compete in a super-B-Grade competition.
The Busselton-Margaret River Cricket Association held a special meeting to discuss Cowaramup’s idea, but the novel motion was defeated 6-2 in a vote by the club presidents.