Premiers headed back to the drawing board
IT WILL be a new-look Central Districts side that sets out to retain its four-day and T20 titles this season.
Central ended Laidley's dominance of the Ipswich competition, and brought a maiden first grade title to the club in a barnstorming grand final display in March.
But if they are to continue that success in 2017/18, coach Scott Barrett will need to unearth some new talent.
Reigning all-rounder of the year Adam O'Sullivan and SEQ representative Luke Barrett will both be missing in action as they recover from ACL injuries.
Their absence adds to a growing list of outgoing first-graders, including Blake Raper (Cairns), Jason O'Sullivan (retired) and Caleb Risson (Hornets).
The only positions consolidated were on the committee, with the full roster returning to keep the club running smoothly off-field.
"We've lost a big chunk of our side, all genuine first grade cricketers that I don't have anymore,” Barrett said.
"Between injury, retirements and people moving away I've lost half of the side that won the grand final. We'll be rebuilding again as a club this season.
"From the performances we put on the park last season, just continuing that momentum will be a little difficult.”
It has been a particularly rough off-season for the reigning premiers, who because of the player turnover have only just started to field respectable numbers at training.
Barrett has been unable to test his new recruits outside of the nets with the centre wicket at Mark Marsh Oval still unavailable until this weekend.
For all the frustrations Barrett has faced, he is still looking for silver linings.
"Opportunities will come from this, we'll need to find people to put their hand up and do a job for us,” Barrett said.
"Blokes like Tom Young and Adam Brown, it gives a chance for those boys to put their hand up to play a higher level of cricket.
"They're consistently coming to training, and that's something we need, is committed players.
"I still want to play semi final cricket, and I think that can be a realistic goal.”
Outside of Young and Brown, Barrett said other second grade players would be given a chance to show their wares early in the season.
"From my point of view, I need to see blokes perform in match scenarios,” the coach said.
"In the first month we'll have blokes move between firsts and seconds, until we can find a stable footprint of guys in the (first grade) side.
"I need people who are mentally tough and have the skills to go with it.”
The coach said although the club boasts a strong selection of talented juniors, it would be difficult to ask them to step in and perform at the top level.
"There's a lot of good juniors at our club, but they're still a few years away yet,” Barrett said.
"Most of the guys in our squad were 23-28 years old last (season) which was perfect.”
What Barrett will look for most in the opening one-day match against a strong Wests side out of Toowoomba will be desire.
"We'll start to ask players of their personal goals - where they want to be and where they want the club to be,” Barrett said.
"I want to play finals cricket. If these boys perform and do well, and we can make a semi final I'll be happy.
"Overall I'm not disappointed. Opportunity knocks, and it's now on some blokes to put their hands up and take it.”