By Richard Millott
Cricket returns to the suburbs this weekend as the opening round of the Ferntree Gully and District Cricket Association commences on Saturday.
Norm Reeves premiers, The Basin, have added to the squad that saluted last season, with English strike bowler Joey Hawke (Lowerhouse C.C.), Adam Masters (East Burwood C.C.), Liam Thomas (Eastfield C.C.) and Shane Luck (Upper Ferntree Gully C.C.) donning the green and red this season.
Numerous players will also return to the local game after time away, including Matt Heskes.
Jake Sherriff departs the Bearcave, destined for Premier Club Fitzroy/Doncaster.
Ferntree Gully Footballers have added Sri Lankan fast bowler Ashen Abeykoon to their bowling stocks, as well as the returning Jack Stockham (Croydon C.C.).
Liam Hunt will also call Picketts Reserve home for the season, the former Upwey Tiger taking on the role of specialist fielding coach.
Joining the 2nd XI Development Pathway is Sri Lankan first-class batsman Dnushka Lahiru who will be tasked with assisting the development of new talent as the Griffens look to push deep into the season.
Upwey have secured the services of Jarryd Roleff (Upper Ferntree Gully C.C.) as the Tigers look to push up the ladder.
Roleff will be joined by Ferntree Gully Footballers pair Ben and Jamie Sidhu as new recruits, adding to a solid Tiger outfit which has also reconfirmed skipper Kyle Snyman, English recruit Julian Whetstone and speedster Cameron Wheeler for additional seasons.
Johnson Park has added Wicketkeeper-Batsman Gerard Petrie (Boronia C.C.) and English recruit Joseph Hayes (Cuckney C.C.) to a squad that will be looking for the next step in the coming season.
The Sharks will be further buoyant by the return of former Premiership player Tom Nash (Rowville C.C) and Tim Reid, who shall take on a playing/coaching role with the club.
Upper Ferntree Gully has recruited strongly during the off-season, securing Sean Woodward (Eildon Park C.C.) as their senior coach.
In addition to Woodward, Chris Wilson (Moorabbin C.C.) has taken on the captaincy, whilst former Sri Lankan First-Class allrounder Sajana De Silva, Corey William (Monash Tigers C.C.), Kyle Clarkson (Skye C.C.) and Scott Brandon (Narre North C.C.) have all committed to the Kings for the coming season.
Former President and premiership player Rob Birnie will be missing from the field following a relocation from the area.
Belgrave will welcome the return of Blake Glenn from injury, as well as new additions in Premier Cricket bowler Daniel Rogers (South Perth C.C.) and Jarrod Mcphee (Kilsyth C.C.).
Ferntree Gully has left no stone unturned to return to Norm Reeves Shield, adding Ringwood trio Jason Kilby, Rhys Hayes-Rosario and Harry Cowling.
After a successful first season at Olinda, former Zimbabwean International Tafadzwa Kamungozi has re-signed as coach of the Bloods and will play an important part in their prospects across the season.
Meanwhile at Talaskia Reserve, wicketkeeper Brad Schimleck, batsmen Alex Ferguson, Tyson Smith (all Bayswater C.C.) and Blake Hughes (Lilydale C.C.) all join the setup at St Johns Tecoma which will be looking for a strong season from all involved.
Round 1 action shall commence at 1pm. For all seasonal fixtures, visit www.ftgdca.com.au