Weather brightens fields for opening round of Coast cricket

Welcome rain may gladden the hearts of curators and green the fields around the Coast, but it also provides a glimmer of light for bowlers for the first round of Sunshine Coast Cricket Association Division 1 fixtures.

Three months of negligible rain have browned the grounds and hardened the pitches at all Coast venues.

A long first-up afternoon on an unyielding deck would have left the opening bowlers not just sore but probably sorry as well on Sunday morning.

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Much interest lies in the debut of Coolum in the top division.

Their inclusion is the result of hard work from a club that has progressed much in recent years to the stage of fielding five senior sides.

“It’s huge to be honest,” says Coolum treasurer Paul MaNamara.

“We had… probably a three year plan where we were going to go in to Division 1.

“But it so happened that Yandina dropped out.

“So we got the opportunity from the Association and we took that chance we thought that we’re going to be doing the same thing in three years so we thought we’d fast forward a bit.”

A lot of learning in a short time will take place as the youngsters in the side find their feet, but they will be heartened by a win in a trial match over Tewantin-Noosa, whom the new side meets in their maiden outing. 

The Thunder has lost Cody Rzeszkowski, Lachie Gunner and Ben Gear from last season’s final team, and top wicket-taker Scott Aufderheide’s acromioclavicular shoulder joint came out second best in an off-season Aussie rules match, though the home side will still produce an experienced challenge to Coolum’s opening venture.

Reigning premiers Caboolture may seem to have lost some depth with Preston White going back to Toombul, the retirement of Matt Jenkins, Dan Book off to the Scorchers, and the loss of Matt Parkinson, but they have truckloads of talent and guidance that has bankrolled eight from the last nine flags.

Caboolture visits Caloundra, where new captain coach Wally Wright leads the Lighthouses for the first time.

This could be the season when the home-grown youth mature into the established side they were meant to be, with the sporadic brilliance becoming settled achievement.

Gympie travels down to Nambour where the new captain Nick Wallace takes the tiller from Steve Ledger, who after 182 games and 6,821 runs is on a sabbatical with Kenilworth.

The return of Ash Renouf to the Scorchers will free up one end of the bowling, leaving new coach Rodney Davison to mould the squad with his substantial background knowledge.

Gold captain Lewis Waugh again has the services of Troy Ashton, the 258 game veteran whose second retirement lasted marginally longer than the first.

Perhaps the lure of a new pitch at the One Mile this season has lured him back to add to his 442 wickets, and with Waugh, Josh and Steve Brady plus Brycen Mitchell firing, the visitors could test the Cutters.

Glasshouse skipper Jeremy Schultz moved into the elite 7,000 run club at the end of last season, and a full card this campaign will give him a seat at the 300 game table, alongside just Errol Young and Stan Johnston.

His Rangers side is basically unaltered this time round, hoping to improve on the third placing which lead to a washed-out end to the finals in March.

The Rangers travel to Maroochydore, where Blaine Schloss will introduce two more Swans to the Baggy Blue on Saturday.

Missing the finals for the first time in 13 seasons will weigh heavy on the club as they strive to make Kev Hackney Oval a fortress again, and a deeper talent pool just needs a good start to get that momentum once more.

Part written by SCCA media officer Pat Drew.

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