A new-look Old Boys bowling attack will take the field against Bective-East at Riverside 1 on Saturday but there will be an old feel about the task facing the side – defend the premiership.
As with the previous four seasons, Old Boys have a big target on their back as they eye five straight premierships.
Old Boys skipper Ben Middlebrook chuckled when reminded out that fact.
“I’d be disappointed in the other clubs if there wasn’t [a target on Old Boys],” he said. “We try to set the standard and we try to win every game we play. I’m guessing the other clubs are similar.”
Old Boys are understandably protective of their title streak.
Middlebrook, the Tamworth District Cricket Association president, said the four straight premierships was the best run since 1932. Prior to that, he thinks North Tamworth won six straight premierships when the competition was in its infancy.
“We’ve got a long way to go to get where we want to be [five consecutive titles],” Middlebrook said. “Jeez, it would be great to say we’ve won five in a row, but that’s a long way off.
“We’ve got to improve as a team. We’ve had a magical run so far but we’ve got a lot of work to do this year if we want to go five in a row.
“We’ve only had one game and we’re looking to improve. We need to get off the mark with a win. Hopefully tomorrow [Saturday] is the start of that and we go from there.”
Only one round has been played this year due to wet weather, with South Tamworth beating Old Boys in the grand final replay. Souths finished on 7-204, before dismissing the premiers for 164.
Old Boys’ new bowling attack includes medium pacers Matt Bryant and James Austin – whom Middlebrook describes as “young kids who’ve come through the grades” – and veteran Troy Sands.
Sands, a left-arm medium pacer, joined the club after a long stint with Kookaburras in Gunnedah.
“And then we’ve got Mitch [Swain] and Aaron [Hazlewood], who’ve been part of the attack the last couple of years,” Middlebrook said. “They’ll head the attack, and we’ll go from there.”
Middlebrook added: “He’s [Sands] played a lot of cricket so it’s good to have him in the team. He’s a good character. He doesn’t give an inch. He’s probably not the most gifted player but he puts his heart and soul into it.”
Middlebrook said Sands contacted Old Boys about the club switch a month before the season started. “I’m good mates with Troy and he was after a bit of a change,” Middlebrook said. “There was a bit of turmoil last year [with Gunnedah cricket] and I guess he’s just looking for a new challenge.”