Northern Districts will take to the field with a heavy heart on Saturday, after the death of club stalwart Renn Murphy.
Players will wear black armbands when they face Dapto and captain Jackson Stewart said the loss will be felt across the club.
“It will be on our players’ minds this weekend, not just on first grade but across the whole club,” Stewart said.
"It’s a massive loss. Through junior cricket and then through the lower grades, he played a lot of cricket, he was quite influential on not just Rob [Renn’s son] but a lot of guys who played first and second grade”
The Butchers will be looking to back up their victory over Corrimal in last Saturday’s Twenty20 opener when they take on the defending champions.
Stewart identified teenager Jye Phillips as a key wicket after his starring performance in Dapto’s opening Twenty20 match. Philips scored 51 not out and picked up two wickets in his side’s win over Wests last weekend.
“He’s only young, but obviously he’s super talented, to get him cheaply would be a bonus,” Stewart said.
According to Dapto captain Richard Marsh, Phillips will be one of his team’s most important batsmen throughout the season.
“He’ll be one of our most important top order batsmen,” Marsh said.
“He’s got another year of experience, he had a good year last year and he’ll hopefully improve with the ball as well.”
Northern Districts have been boosted by the return of club junior Jonathan Fowles.
Fowles spent the past four years playing for Western Suburbs in the Sydney grade competition, including a number of first grade games.
“He’s a very good player, he’s played first grade in Sydney and he’s also young,” Stewart said.
“He’s only 20, he fits in well off the field as well. I played junior cricket with him, so it’s good to have him back.”
It didn’t take long for the spin bowler to prove his worth, as he picked up 4-7 in his side’s low scoring victory over Corrimal.
Fowles will be joined in the Northern Districts attack by fellow spinners Jamie Stevens and Anthony Sheeley and Dapto will be looking to neutralise the trio by rotating the strike and scoring frequently.
“I think you’ve just got to be positive with spinners, try not to get tied down, not to let them dominate the batsmen and get comfortable and try to force them to make changes as opposed to letting them settle.” Marsh said.
Marsh is expecting a tough game against a team that finished last season in fourth.
Batsman Lachlan Dunn scored a half century to lead Northern Districts to victory over the eventual premiers in last season’s campaign.
“They’re always competitive and I don’t see that changing this weekend or for the rest of the year,” Marsh said.
“They’ve got a couple of key batsmen, Lachy Dunn is pretty electrifying with the bat so hopefully we can get a few early wickets and get stuck into the middle order.”
Play will commence at Reed Oval at 11:30am.
Saturday, round one
11:30am: HELENSBURGH v CORRIMAL at Rex Jackson Oval, KEIRA v WESTS at Keira Oval, PORT KEMBLA v WOLLONGONG at King George V Oval, DAPTO v NORTHERN DISTRICTS at Reed Oval, BALGOWNIE v UNIVERSITY at Judy Masters Oval.
Illawarra Flames set for Twenty20 action
Mitch Calder will lead the Illawarra Flames in the Regional Bash next weekend.
The University coach heads a strong side that will travel to Maitland to face Hunter, Newcastle and Central Coast in three Twenty20 games across the weekend.
Kieran Richards – Keira, Matthew Salakas – Northern Districts, Jarrod Colliss (VC) – Wests Illawarra, Jonathon Fowles – Northern Districts, Toby Dodds – University, Mitch Calder (C) – University, Justin Brancato – Northern Districts, Neel Honavar – Keira, Chris Macnamara – Helensburgh, Tom Davey – Keira, Xavier McDevitt – Corrimal, Rhys Voysey – University