ORANGE City won last year’s Orange District Cricket Association first grade title in emphatic fashion, peeling off a 10-wicket outright victory over CYMS to claim the club’s first top flight title since the summer of 1998-99.
With years of preliminary final and grand final agony beginning to weigh heavily on Orange City, last year’s victory broke the shackles for the Warriors.
Now, has that weight of expectation shifted from City to today’s opponents?
Can CYMS bounce back?
The cricketing Gods aren’t waiting around to find out, with City set to duke it out with CYMS in the first grand final rematch of the summer when round one of the ODCA first grade competition kicks off today at Wade Park.
City skipper Matt Findlay is confident ahead of the showdown, while CYMS wicketkeeper-batsman Dave Neil said winning in round one isn’t everything.
“I’ll back the players we’ve got,” Findlay said.
“I don’t think there’s a psychological edge there over CYMS, but I think the loss in last year’s grand final might be hanging over a few of their heads this year.”
Neil wasn’t buying into the City mind games, instead opting to release the pressure valve on what will be a young green and golds outfit.
“(Winning in round one) is not that important, to be honest,” the experienced campaigner said.
“It’s a long season and there will be wins and losses for us and all the other teams too. Obviously we’re hopeful of starting on a winning note, but if we don’t it’s not the end of the world.
“Batting will be the key for our team. On paper, our bowling attack is better than handy and should hold up well in the one-day format.
“If our batting can match our bowling we’ll be more than competitive.”
City too will have a largely different side to the one that won last season’s title.
Findlay labelled the contributions of Dave Boundy and Andrew Rutledge in last year’s grand final as prominent, but both have now retired to toil away in the lower grade Warriors sides.
The new skipper was hoping guys like Josh Mahon and Ryan Milham will fill the void to a degree, while John Warrington’s defection from CYMS to City is set to help bolster the Warriors’ top order and add spice to the contest.
Findlay wasn’t writing CYMS off, however.
“They’re understrength for obvious reasons, but they’ve still got a good team,” he said.
“I think everyone knows we haven’t seen the best of Hugh Le Lievre yet, Amit Balgi is a handy bat and with guys like Neily and Hamish (Finlayson), they’re still going to be tough to beat.”
CYMS and City go head-to-head in round one of the ODCA first grade premiership today at Wade Park from 1pm.