MICHAEL Rixon is back and ready for another season of Tamworth first grade cricket after his soggy summer in England.
He is only 21 but this year he will take on extra responsibility as North Tamworth captain, starting with today’s first-round grand final rematch with reigning premiers South Tamworth.
He still has a handy team at his disposal, despite the loss of his brother Brendan to Sydney grade cricket and injuries to rep players like opening bowler Adam Greentree and middle order bat Kris Halloran that will keep them out of the early rounds.
“It should be good fun,” Rixon said.
“Doomer (Greentree) and Kris Halloran are injured.
“It’s a bit of a rebuilding year and we’ve got some young guys coming up, guys like Jack Cameron and Joey Holt and we’ve got Leo Steyn coming over from City.
“He’s got some talent.
“They’ll all have a good season I think.
“Hamish Batley is another one who should go well.
“He’s been good in the nets.”
Ben Legge is also back after missing all of last season following shoulder surgery.
He will take on a lot of responsibility early in the year in the absence of Greentree, who is out for about six weeks with a knee injury.
In the batting department, Rixon will lead the way, along with experienced opening partner Adam Lole.
Rixon was one of the standouts in the Tamworth competition last season and also performed well in rep cricket for Tamworth and Central North.
He then headed to England for the northern summer where he joined the Bollington Club in Lancashire, a destination for a number of Tamworthians in recent years.
Unfortunately, it was one of the wettest summers on record in that part of the world and it made for a frustrating season.
Rixon still managed a few good scores on mostly damp wickets.
“It wasn’t too bad, except for the weather,” he said.
“I got a hundred early on but in the middle part of the season I didn’t get too many runs.
“I had a couple of decent games.”
He will be hoping for more runs for the Redbacks on home turf, starting with today’s one-dayer against South at Chaffey Park.
The last time the sides met, South was crowned champion.
“It’s a pretty good test,” Rixon said.
“They have a strong bowling attack.
“In the batting their key guy is still Grothy (Tom Groth).”
South has also seen some changes, with Riley Ayre joining from Scone and Troy Osborne back for today’s game, although it has lost Nick Leyden and Matt Everett.
Rixon reckons the two sides that missed the finals last season will also be more competitive.
“I think City will be big improvers,” he said.
“And Old Boys will have Ben Middlebrook back and he adds leadership and
Those two sides meet at Scully Park today.
The other game sees West Tamworth face Bective East at Dick Edwards Oval.