FIRST grade captain Aaron Ayre says Queanbeyanhas something to prove this year with a host of off-season departures havingdecimated the club’s championship winning side.
Only four members of last year’s historicoutfit that claimed ACT Cricket’s one-day, two-day and Twenty20 competitionsalong with the NSW SCG Cup will back-up in Queanbeyan colours this season.
Gone are the likes of Comets stars MarkHiggs (retired) Dean Solway (Prospect), Blake Dean (Tuggeranong), MichaelSpaseski (Eastlake) and Dan Rootes (Sydney).
Queanbeyan will also be without theservices of middle order batsmen Simon Mackie and Michael Curtale as well asquicks Dean Southwell and Lea Hansen.
It’s a situation that puts plenty ofpressure on the side’s remaining senior players, namely Ayre himself and Cometsskipper Jono Dean.
“We’ve obviously lost a fair few boys butwe’ve gained a few players as well and done our best to fill the gaps,” Ayretold The Queanbeyan Age in thelead-in to this weekend’s season opener against Eastlake.
“A fair few of the [Canberra] clubs havebeen pretty active in chasing a few of our boys but that’s what success does inevery code.
“If you’re successful over a long period oftime clubs are going to try and take your players and that’s caught up with usthis year. After last year when we won every premiership, there wasn’t muchmore a lot of the boys could do so it was probably a fitting note for some ofthem to retire or look at other options.”
Queanbeyan will begin the defence of its 50over title against Eastlake at Freebody Oval this Saturday in what will prove athorough opening test of the club’s new-look best XI.
“Eastlake looks like it going to be one ofthe stronger teams going around this year so hopefully we can knock them offfirst-up and prove to everyone else that even though we lost a few players,we’re still up there,” Ayre said.
“It’s always a grudge match when you comeup against someone who has left the club. I think we’re playing a couple ofex-players in the first three rounds so it’d be nice to get one over them.”
Balancing the offseason departures, theBluebags have been boosted by the arrivals of Chris Russo (Tuggeranong) andJosh Corbett (Wests/UC) while having also brought in Queenslander JoshConnelly.
Ayre meanwhile, said he was simply lookingforward to getting back on the pitch after his first prolonged break from thegame in nearly two years.
The 20-year-old’s commitments last seasonsaw him captain Queanbeyan’s four premiership winning sides as wicketkeeper/batsman,while also representing the ACT Comets in the Futures League.
“I was a bit burnt out and looking forward to abreak,” Ayre said. “Two months into it though I was ready to come back and nowI can’t wait to get out there and feel a bit of bat on ball.”
Queanbeyan Bluebags captain Aaron Ayre says the club has a point to prove this year after the off-season departures of a host of key players. Photo: Canberra Times
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