AFTER a year many at the club would probably prefer to forget, Centrals will be hoping this summer is one when the former Orange District Cricket Association first grade champions return to finals cricket.
Opposed to the core group that won back-to-back premierships in 2010-11 and 2011-12, the black and reds failed to field the same first XI in any game throughout the 2012-13 season.
It cruelled both momentum and a shot a defending the title, with Centrals finishing fourth with just two wins all season.
Centrals president Nick McGrath is hoping this summer tells a different story.
“In a perfect world you’d have the same 11 blokes playing week-in, week-out, but we’ll still have a few players who are in and out on alternate weeks through shift work a lot like last year. It’s the nature of the beast,” McGrath said.
“On the other side of the coin hopefully the exposure to first grade cricket some of those players had last year will help this summer.
“There’s a little more depth there now to call on.”
Following the ODCA’s split of second grade in 2012-13, Centrals won the third grade title with a resounding victory over Metro Wanderers.
Some of the players in that side are capable fill-ins, but just how well Centrals do in 2013-14 will hinge on scoring runs.
Hitting 257 runs at an average of 32 in 2012-13, Jarrod Simpson was Centrals’ leading run scorer last season.
Simpson, however, won’t be a regular for Centrals this year.
The return of Adam Shepherd will help fill Simpson’s void to a degree, but the former ODCA cricketer of the year won’t be able to shoulder the run scoring duties on his own.
“It’ll be the same for every team this season,” McGrath said.
“There’s not too many games now where a team scores 200 and loses. If that can be the goal this year then our bowlers are as capable as any in the competition.
“We’ve been training now for about a month. If we can get off to a reasonable start and win at least half our games prior to Christmas I think that’ll give us the best chance to make the finals.”
Centrals play Kinross in the first game of the 2013-14 ODCA season next Saturday at KWS Main Oval.