APOLLO Bay cricket captain Matt Hanks says he expects the Sharks to be a finals force in their return to top-grade cricket.
Apollo Bay has spent two seasons rebuilding its playing list in lower divisions of the Colac District Cricket Association but will field a Division One team this season.
The Sharks replace Warrion in Division One, which will have seven teams, after a player shortage forced the Panthers to field only lower division senior teams.
Recruits and returned players have given the Sharks a solid base to build on.
Former Melbourne Cricket Club bowler Dean Scheetz, who played with Apollo Bay’s football team this year, brings district cricket experience to the team while batsman Alistair McKenzie returns to the Sharks.
Hanks said the Division One team was shaping up well.
“I think we’ll be pretty competitive in Division One; we’ll be looking to try and play finals,” he said.
“Obviously Dean is a pretty handy cricketer, he’s played district firsts before and he’s only a young guy.
“He certainly helps our bowling stocks.”
Apollo Bay has more recruits on its radar and the club planned to play Division One this season after competing in a Division Two grand final earlier this year.
The Sharks will have two senior teams, in Division One and Division Two, and two junior teams.
Hanks said the club had considered fielding three senior teams.
“We were very close to putting three sides in but we didn’t want to run the risk of forfeiting a side every now and then,” he said.
“The fact we’ve got one ground down here is a major issue for us putting three sides in.”
Hanks said Apollo Bay players and officials were keen for the season’s start in October.
“We started training and we can’t wait to get into it,” he said.
“Plenty of the boys have been down in the nets and the kids are keen as mustard, they can’t wait.”
Division One will feature reigning premier Irrewarra, Colac, Colac West, City United, Alvie, Stoneyford and Apollo Bay.