Ipswich cricket is back
MICHAEL HILLIER and MARCO MONTEVERDE
IPSWICH cricket is back ?V and so too are the big guns. After leading the Laidley Blue Dogs to back-to-back Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association (IWMCA) first division titles, gun all-rounder Michael Sippel is back for more. Sippel yesterday made his intentions clear. ??Of course we want to win three in a row,?? Sippel said ahead of today??s season opener against Northsiders at Bichel Oval. ??The blokes have shown at training so far that they want to win three. ??The same guys are there ... it just depends on how much they want it.?? The Blue Dogs will look to get their premiership defence off to a flyer with a strong performance in their two-day clash against the Tigers. But the Laidley boys will have to do it without two of their most consistent batsmen ?V Lyle Teske and Peter Wood. Northsiders are also understrength for the first round clash, with Robert Hillier, Kent Hislop and Chris Wichura all unavailable for the intriguing Bichel Oval showdown. However, the Tigers have been buoyed by the return of classy spinner Mathew James. The experienced leg-spinner has returned to the North Ipswich side after a successful stint in Brisbane first grade cricket with Souths. James will captain a Tigers outfit that is desperate to be a force in 2006-07 after crashing out of last season??s premiership race with a shock semi-final loss to Brothers. Brothers have also been boosted by the return of one of their favourite sons. Former Ipswich and South Queensland representative batsman Darren McCabe is back with the Brethren after a lengthy break from the game. Brothers skipper David Richardson has been impressed with McCabe??s form in the trials. ??He??s been on fire,?? Richardson said. ??It looks like he hasn??t missed a beat.???? McCabe??s talents with the bat will be on show at the Marburg Showgrounds today when last season??s grand finalists clash with the Mustangs. Richardson is backing his team to start the season with a first innings victory. But Mustangs skipper Shane Shipton isn??t shying away from the contest. After picking up some key signings in the off-season, Shipton believes his team has the ability to finish in the top half of the ladder. ??I think we??re a big chance every game we play this year,???? Shipton said. With improved depth at the club, the Ipswich Pioneers all-rounder said there would be pressure on all players to perform ?? from the start. New faces at Marburg this season include David Lund and promising top order batsmen Mitchell and Matthew Prouatt. Lund enters the match in good touch, having scored an impressive half-century in a trial match against Caloundra. Runs are expected to flow today if classy Eastern Raiders batsman Brian May takes to the crease. May should pile on the runs if he gets a chance to bat for the Raiders in their opening round clash against Bundamba Strollers at Strollers. Eastern Raiders coach John Bell expects his side to challenge for the title this season. ??The team has a very good combination of experience and youth,???? Bell said. ??We expect to be a force but obviously we??ve got a lot of hard work to do.???? The Raiders came within one wicket of qualifying for last season??s decider. Strollers have made a key leadership change after a disappointing 2005-06 campaign. Talented all-rounder Craig Cumming replaces Greig Cumming in the captaincy hot seat. Craig Cumming said he was looking forward to the challenge of leading the side. He said his team had the ability to climb off the bottom of the table. Like Strollers, Central Districts will be determined for success after a number of lean seasons. The Limestone Park club has appointed former Marburg and Colleges Crossing all-rounder Andrew Doyle as captain. Doyle, who replaces Wayne Jones, said his charges had trained strongly in the pre-season. ??We want to be more professional and shed the easy beat tag,???? Doyle said. ??I think the main thing is to enjoy our cricket. Everyone seems to be gelling well. ??We??re having fun at training.???? Centrals clash with Colleges Crossing in what could be a fiery season opener at Mark Marsh Oval. Colleges have named boom teenagers Lachlan Pfeffer and Andy Tazelaar in their XI. Jacob Sarra has been appointed captain of a Crocs outfit that will rely heavily on all-rounders Andrew Gifford and Michael Ridgewell. The top three teams qualify for the finals. The minor premiers advance straight into the final, with the second and third placed teams to play off in the semi-final. First grade scores need to be dropped into the QT by Sunday morning. Lower grade scores can be emailed to the QT after each weekend.