With a handful of inspirations from last summer's triumph gone the experience, leadership and seemingly inevitable performance of marquee player Jameel Qureshi will be pivotal to St Pat's Old Boys' Royal Hotel Cup defence, which kicks off on Sunday.
Carl Sharpe Medal winner Nic Broes and fellow young guns Ben Mitchell and Tanvir Singh have linked with Sydney and Canberra clubs for this summer, leaving a massive hole and forcing the Saints to field a dramatically different side this summer.
The trio combined to account for 433 runs and 26 wickets in last summer's title win, with Broes topping the competition's run-scoring tally and Mitchell running third, while Singh topped the wicket-taking list with Broes second.
Qureshi was quiet with the bat last summer but snared seven wickets at an average of nine, but with his history as a run-scoring phenom in the competition he'll shoulder a massive load in terms of filling the hole left by the departed stars.
Adam Ryan will help fill that void too after joining the Saints from Centennials, he committed to the former club before it became apparent the latter would nominate for the Bathurst-Orange Inter-District Cricket competition.
Ryan is unavailable for Sunday's opening clash against CYMS though.
"Jameel just gives us that extra leadership and experience," he said.
"Browny just secures our top end of the bat. He's an opening batsman, so he just gives us that confidence with the bat. He'll fulfill that role as opening batsman that we lost from Nic Broes."
Fearnley went on to say he's reasonably confident his side can make up for the loss of Broes, who also scored 601 runs at 42.93 in Bathurst District Cricket Association's long-form competition last summer.
Youngsters Cooper Brien, Brydon Slattery, Ben Cant and Hugh Parsons will be given extra responsibility, and Fearnley said it's encouraging to see them coming through the ranks.
"We've always had an emphasis on junior development and it's great to see the success of the kids being developed," he said.
St Pat's Old Boys' title defence starts at 10am on Sunday at Wade Park.
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