Young pups ready to step up for Laidley Bluedogs
CRICKET: Laidley know the season ahead is going to be a challenging test but the rest of the competition will understand they can never underestimate the Bluedogs, even if they're backed into a corner.
Their first grade side are used to being there or thereabouts against the top clubs in Ipswich and Toowoomba, but the departure of a number of their most experienced competitors has been a blow.
Captain Alex Welsh admitted the upcoming season might be somewhat of a transitional one due to a lack of depth within the senior ranks, but results have been positive so far.
They've won their first two games of the Ipswich and West Moreton first division season and rain limited them to a draw in the opening round of the Harding-Madsen Shield against Met-Easts and again the next week against Centrals.
Older heads departing the team has left holes for talented young players to earn their first grade stripes, including 14-year-old Noah Emmerson and 16-year-old Ezekiel Kugel.
Even then, the teenagers will only be available until Christmas before they turn their attention back to school cricket, offering another selection dilemma.
The 30-year-old Welsh said it was hard for the team to not think too much beyond the next fixture on the schedule.
"It's up to myself and a few of the others that are still there to really step up now. We've got to, there's no excuse and no waiting on your mate to do it,” Welsh said.
"We want to give them a bit of an education on the game and the right way to play the game.
"Definitely in first grade at the moment, there's some big opportunities for younger players where in previous years there probably hasn't been. They've really got a chance to come in and make the spots their own.
"We still turn up every week and we want to win every week.”
The 2018/19 season could see the Bluedogs lock horns with Lockyer as the local association side enter the Harding-Madsen Shield for the very first time.
But it will have to be in the later stages of the 12team competition as the two have been drawn in opposite pools.
"I would say there's probably a few people in that Lockyer side that would like to beat Laidley,” Welsh smiled.
"I hope they do well. I'm a firm believer that in the Lockyer comp, there's a lot of good cricketers.
"The fact that they now get an opportunity to form a team and go and challenge in a better competition, good on them for doing it.”
The Englishman, who first played for Laidley in 2010, is now a part of the furniture at the club and relishes being skipper.
"It means everything to me,” he said.
"It would have been nice to have a few more titles under the belt but it hasn't gone that way.
"When I first came over and none knew who I was, I was given every opportunity by this club. I was looked after, made to feel part of the family and a place to live.
"I will repay that with loyalty and hard work and that's what we're doing now by bringing all the young fellas in.”