By TIM HOWARD
IT will be a new look Westlawn Crown Hotel first grade cricket team that launches its defence of its Bananacoast Community Credit Union Premier League title against Brothers at Ellem Oval this afternoon.
Champion batsman Tim Grosser has succumbed to persistent knee injuries, top order batsman Mark Robinson has left the area, dynamic wicketkeeper batsman Jason Rainbow has work committments and batsmen Shaun Ulrick and Brad Inmon are also absent.
Skipper Tony Blanch says these losses make his team vulnerable against a Brothers team coming off a loss to South Services in game one.
"It certainly puts the pressure on the experienced guys Andrew Firth and Daniel Amos to score some runs for us," Blanch said.
However, the club has plenty of depth and talented youngsters BJ Purser and Simon Wilson and the evergreen Ken Wilson have been drafted into the side for the game.
Blanch said his team has been boosted by the return to full fitness of left-arm quickie Rohan Hackett, who struggled with back injuries last season.
"Rohan's been bowling very quick in the nets, which is a good sign for us," Blanch said.
Westlawn have plenty of back up for him with Firth, Nathan Blanch and Jason Chevalley all handy medium pacers.
Blanch and young legspinner Jake Conway-James give the bowling attack plenty of variety and wicket-taking ability.
Brothers showed against the powerful South Services attack that they can score plenty of runs, but a question mark exists over the bowling.
Trevor White started the season in great touch and youngsters John Holmes and Mick Summers chipped in with handy runs to take their total well over 200.
With the prospect of representative batsman Matt Ryan also making a sizeable contribution, they give their bowlers something to work with.
Ryan has also taken to the bowling crease this season, and while inexperienced the reports are he is bowling with plenty of pace, sharpening an attack that struggled against South.