Hornets stung by loss
THE LJ Hooker League cricket season will open with a blockbuster grand final rematch between Cudgen Hornets and Casino Cavaliers next Saturday.
It promises to be a fiery encounter, with Cudgen keen to atone for its disappointing loss to Casino in a game marred by ball-tampering allegations.
Cudgen lost only one game in the regular season last summer, while Casino lost just two, so next Saturday's battle of the heavyweights will mean one will have to take an early defeat.
Hornets captain Terry Wilson said there would be nothing better than to take revenge on the reigning premiers in front of their home fans on October 8.
"We really want to go down and beat them at their home ground. There would be nothing better," Wilson said at Cudgen training on Thursday night. "That would put us in really good stead of the rest of the year."
There is no doubt Wilson and his Cudgen teammates are still hurting from their loss to Casino.
"I thought we performed awesome last year. We lost two games, basically three games the whole year and two of those were in finals. We have still got something to achieve and something to motivate us this year - the ultimate prize,'' he said.
"I think there were a lot of other factors involved in that game (the grand final) that sort of made it a little bit harder to swallow in regards to the loss, but I think it is only going to motivate us more this year.
"Playing on a home ground in a grand final, and seeing all the local support, I think each and every player in our side wants to have another taste of that.
"There is enough motivation there for us to hopefully perform at the same level again."
On the manpower front, Cudgen will field a similar line-up to last year, with the exception of fast bowler James Julius, who is living in England.
Wilson said strike bowler Michael Anderson had overcome a troublesome back injury in a refreshing off season.
Hard-hitting opening batsman Craig Wilson will also be back, possibly for a final season, along with Jamie Wilson, Chris Moase and Aaron Laycock.
Tweed District representative captain Tait Burns, who controversially moved from South Tweed Colts to Cudgen mid-season last summer, will be with the team from the outset.
Wilson sees Burns' presence as a massive boost.
"Having Tait there for the whole year is really going to make a big difference, because he is an absolute superstar," he said.
"Craig Wilson seriously considered hanging up the boots last year, but has decided to carry on, and hopefully he might go out in some circumstances that are different to what happened last season."
Wilson believes Cudgen was bowling-heavy last summer, which cost it in the grand final, when it was bowled out for 152 runs in two innings.
The departure of Julius should allow the team to replace him with a bowling-batsman, with Wilson wanting his team to be able to bat down to number 10.
The captain is preparing to blood a few of the club's junior players in senior cricket this year.
"The benefit from such a good, strong junior base here is that we have got some good young juniors coming through.
"They should all get an opportunity this year and it should be a good chance for them."
The club has also picked up a new sponsor, in local sports apparel company RJR Cricket.
"We are going to be decked out in their uniforms this year," Wilson said. "It is a good chance for them to show their product off and it should go good."