THIS is the season for the next generation of exciting young Tooradin cricketers to stand up and be counted.
The winds of change have swept through the Seagulls’ nest over the off-season, with gun all-rounder Cal O’Hare leaving after eight years with the West Gippsland Cricket Association powerhouse to test himself with Buckley Ridges in the Dandenong District competition.
Ash Adams (Devon Meadows) and Ben Spicer (Pakenham Upper-Toomuc) have found new WGCA homes, while top order batsman Brenton Adams has retired.
But the Gulls are excited about a new chapter; one led by one of the best players in the region, Aaron Avery – who has taken on the mantle of player-coach.
Together with fellow Seagulls’ favourite son Tom Hussey, Avery will be aiming to deliver more success to what is already one of the most successful clubs in the competition.
But the two won’t do it alone – far from it. One of the Seagulls’ strengths has long been its depth, in both the coaching and leadership ranks, and this season Avery will be joined in the coaching ranks by assistant Dave Freeman and youth development coach Bradey Welsh.
Welsh, together with his younger brother Matt, has made the switch across from Pakenham. He’s a Level 2 coach who brings with him experience from his time at Casey South Melbourne Cricket Club. He will specialise in one-on-one development as the club looks to reward its young, up-and-comers with spots in the Premier side when their form warrants it.
“We’ve had a couple of people part ways but we’ve really looked to work on the youth we’ve got around the club – some of the younger boys who’ve done well through the other grades, whether it be B Grade or Sub-District,” Hussey told the Gazette.
“They’ve all performed but maybe the opportunities haven’t been there in the past.
“Young blokes like Mitch Halstead, Tim Lenders and Tom Bethune – these sorts of guys have done well in the other grades and hopefully they can come up and play ones cricket.”
The Gulls will be spreading the load when it comes to leadership this season, and Freeman said it was a way of empowering players within the club to take a real sense of ownership in its direction.
While the likes of Cardinia, Kooweerup, Pakenham, Upper Beaconsfield and Emerald have all made moves to improve their stocks – and their chances of winning the 2015/16 Premier crown – Tooradin’s aim, too, is for the ultimate success.
Improved consistency across the board is the biggest thing the Gulls are working on for this coming season.
“We’ve done a lot of empowering stuff – doing a lot of surveys of the guys, and doing skills audits,” Freeman said.
“The guys are reviewing their own games and trying to develop that consistency.
“The goal is to win the premiership – that’s everyone’s goal but we’ve got to weigh up a number of other factors as well. There’s been a big transition and it’s sort of a new era and it’s going to be an exciting time for a lot of young kids.”
New club president Kane Latham said he was excited about what’s in store.
“I know that we’re going to come across guys who’re going to be 10-year Premier players because they’ll be given the chance,” he said.
“I know there are young guys at our club that can do it, and they’re going to get the chance to show it this year.
“Having those kids step up is a credit to all the work that Barry (Freeman) did, and all the work that the junior coaches have put in as well.”
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