WINNING FEELING: Brothers players celebrate a Luke Dixon catch on their way to winning last season's First Division title.
WINNING FEELING: Brothers players celebrate a Luke Dixon catch on their way to winning last season's First Division title. Rob Williams

Even with dads away, Brothers have extra depth

LIKE his cricketing colleagues, Dave Richardson is preparing for another season, albeit starting earlier and with a changed format.

"It's a bit early to be playing cricket,'' Richardson said getting ready for Saturday's First Division Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association clash with Northsiders.

"Everyone is wrapped up in what they do in the winter time.''

However, the experienced Brothers captain will accept the challenge with his trademark professionalism.

Although some regular cricketers are still completing winter finals and attending to fatherhood duties, Richardson said the defending premiers were in good shape.

"From looking at the side we had last year, we've basically retained everybody, with the addition of three guys that have come across from Redbacks,'' Richardson said.

Among the off-season dads, or fathers to be, are Mitch Weatherhead, Jake Sarra, Josh Ridgewell and last year's grand final hero Chris Smith.

Senior batsman Weatherhead was expected to return for the two-day games later in the season after spending some time with his first baby.

"It's a wait and see for us,'' Richardson said on the availability of the new dads.

With a bye, regular breaks in the season and the new players, "Richo" was confident Brothers would have increased playing depth.

Among the newcomers are all-rounder Cameron Wood, Joel Hall and exciting wicketkeeping prospect Matthew Andrews.

Apprentice chef Andrews will play when he can around his work commitments.

"We'll have some weeks where guys will be out but we've got plenty of cover, which is going to work in our favour,'' Richardson said.

Regulars like accomplished wicketkeeper Luke Dixon, allrounder Taylor Peach and bowling workhorse Mark Sharrad provide stability.

Richardson said the return of former teammate Brian Andrews as coach was also a boost for the 2017/18 two-day competition champions.

"I played with Brian 20 odd years ago and it's great to have him back,'' Richardson said.

With five teams playing in this year's First Division competition, a bye weekend is offered.

"For us older blokes, we quite like that and our wives quite like it,'' he said.

"You have a bit of time off.''

Left-arm orthodox spinner Richardson is preparing for his 23rd IWMCA season having smashed through the 200 wicket barrier.

He said some players have been back training for a month, although the main group only got together for the first time this week.

"It's a really early start to the season and we've still got guys with other commitments and that sort of thing at the moment,'' Richardson said.

Saturday's game is the first of three IWMCA competition one-day clashes before the annual Harding-Madsen Shield competition with Toowoomba sides starts next month.

That intercity series was delayed due to Toowoomba cricketers still completing their winter final duties like rugby league.

Brothers club president Leo Conway was also mindful of challenges due to the competition beginning during the winter grand finals.

"It's been a funny start to the year with an early start I suppose,'' Conway said.

"The crossover (of sports) never used to happen. Everybody had their sport season and could play.

"Where the season used to be confined into summer, it doesn't happen anymore and everybody is trying to get a bite of the pie.''

The club's home playing field is still at Ivor Marsden Sporting Complex at Amberley while Brothers new turf wicket at the old Bremer school oval is given time to mature. "That will hopefully be running after Christmas,'' Conway said.

The team trains at the Brothers Leagues Club nets in Wildey Street.

Richardson said his team's priority was emulating what was achieved last year peaking for the major final, where they beat Laidley.

"We do prefer two-day cricket,'' Richardson said. "Our main aim is the Ipswich cricket and I said that to our guys.

"We've got probably up to six guys that have had kids in the last 12 months and travelling to Toowoomba and back - week in, week out - doesn't suit our parents. And we're going to use those games to bring some younger kids through and give them a bit of a taste of that cricket.

"Predominantly, we'll really focus on the Ipswich games and winning as many of those as we can.''

Saturday's other First Division encounter features last season's runners-up Laidley hosting the South East Redbacks.

Game day

Opening round of Ipswich West Moreton Cricket Association first division games.

Saturday (10am): Northsiders v Brothers at Cribb Park; Laidley District v South East Redbacks at Bichel Oval; Centrals bye.

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