Men's 2022-23 Season Preview

The new men's season gets underway on Saturday when we take on Randwick Petersham in a re-run of the final round of 2021-22. We're hoping for rather less rain though, after three grades were washed out in a damp end to a damp season!

After last season's COVID disruption, the prospect of a prompt start to the season and no restrictions on winter training galvanised the Bears into the most organised and productive pre-season anyone can remember. Indoor nets at Sydney Boys' High were supplemented with specialised batting, fast bowling and wicketkeeping sessions, and strength and conditioning at UTS, and the Bears are ready and raring to go. In our coaching staff, Gary Whitaker has moved into an oversight role as Director of Men's Cricket, John Saint takes over as Head Coach and Todd Harper returns to the club as Head Assistant Coach. Gary, John and Todd are supported by Tom Jagot as batting coach and PGs coach, Mac Jenkins and Tim Reynolds supporting our Green Shield squad, Ash Perrott as fielding and fitness coach, and Lachlan Dodd and Hitaishi Soni from UTS looking after strength and conditioning.

Our principal aim for the season is a strong improvement on our 15th place in last year's Club Championship, which doesn't come close to doing justice to the talent in the club. The return to a balanced program between 2-day and 1-day cricket will be welcome, as a club that's traditionally been stronger in the longer format, as are a number of new players who strengthen our middle and lower grades in particular. The role of the selectors is not one to be envied with several players, established and new, putting on a strong showing in pre-season and last weekend's trial matches.

First Grade, led once again by Tom Jagot, will be looking to tackle the inconsistency which saw us fall outside the top 10 last season. When we were good (such as against St George, who finished fifth and turned up at North Sydney Oval with two test players), we were really very good, but there were too many games that got away for us to be challenging for Finals. With Aiden Bariol and Jack James having left the club for Tasmania and Gordon respectively, there will be opportunities for young players to step up and make their name at the top grade - in particular, Jimmy Greenslade and Adam Cavenor, who made strong starts to what we hope will be long First Grade careers.

In Second Grade, a thrilling win against Randy Petes in the final match of what was otherwise a disappointing season gives us heart for the year ahead. In a poacher turned gamekeeper move, Sam Alexander takes over the captaincy from Glenn Aitken, so watch this space for a weekly dose of Sydney's most entertaining match reports! Glenn will remain a key member of a squad that many of our young new recruits will be targeting a regular berth in - including Dylan Mares, Lachlan Roughley and Max Clark. We also welcome back Justin Rodgie, who returns to the Bears after six years at Sydney CC.

Club President, Patrick Lindsay, takes on the leadership of Third Grade, who showed promise last season and pushed for finals, while Alex Perry is promoted to the Fourth Grade captaincy after leading Fifth Grade to the semi finals in what was certainly the club's brightest showing of 2021-22. 5s will once again blend youth and experience, with the captaincy shared between Michael Lloyd and Rob Lavery, and some exciting young players coming through, including members of both last and this years' Green Shield squads. Meanwhile, Mac Jenkins leads the Poidevin-Gray side for the second year, although he may argue last year didn't count after he sustained an injury early in the season that counted him out of much of the COVID-curtailed fixture list.

While the draws for the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup, PGs and Green Shield are still awaited, the Grade fixture list includes some tasty match-ups right at the start of the season, including our nearest neighbours Mosman and Gordon in successive rounds in Rounds 3 and 4. After Randy Petes in Round 1, facing Sydney for the first time in two years and then double Premiers Mosman will be a good barometer for how this season might shape up.