Tigers relish challenge of another promotion

The Gisborne and District Cricket Association season brings a lot of unknowns for Lancefield Cricket Club.

After winning last season’s C-grade flag, the Tigers will play this summer in B-grade, a level that’s foreign to most of its players.

Tigers player-coach Luke Barker said only two or three of the side had played at a higher grade than C.

“It’s exciting for the club and everyone involved,” Barker said before the opening match against St Anthonys.

“We’re hoping to be competitive. It’s a big step up but a challenge we’re looking forward to.”

The Tigers are used to challenges; the club has risen three grades in as many years.

Lancefield was playing E-grade in 2012-13.

The Tigers’ other two sides have also gone up in the off-season.

“In an ideal world we would like to make finals, but we’re realistic about the big step we’re taking,” Barker said. “The game situation will be different and the players won’t be able to play with the same free spirit.

“The batting and bowling will be better and all of a sudden teams will be making 250 against us. But I’m confident we have the skills to play in B-grade and even [top grade] McIntyre Cup.”

Barker said the club had retained all last year’s premiership side, although Simon Donnellon would step down to play in the second XI.

Riddell’s Ryan Millar has joined the Tigers to bat in the middle order, while Barker says the club is hoping to announce a big-name signing in the next couple of days.

He says he’s excited to see how Matthew Bowden will play this season after he led the C-grade wicket tally last season with 41.

“He probably won’t have the season he had last year, but I’m sure he’ll prove himself,” Barker said. “He’s never played higher than C-grade as he’s come through the ranks at Lancefield.”

The season didn’t start the way the Tigers would have hoped with a loss against St Anthonys.

Needing 136 to win, the Tigers made only 107.

In other B-grade results, Rupertswood’s bowlers did the job against East Sunbury. After making 8-159 off its 40 overs, Rupertswood bowled out the Thunder for 82.

Wallan, back in B-grade after being relegated, had its first win since 2014 with victory over Ashfield, while Bacchus Marsh defeated Macedon in the other match.