GCA - Following a fortnight of off-field drama, it will be a big relief to the Grampians Cricket Association when players finally step out onto the field tomorrow.
There are six A grade teams, eight B grade and eight C grade competing this summer, with A and B grade set to begin their campaign tomorrow while C grade has to wait until next Saturday, October 19.
It has been a turbulent past couple of weeks for the Association.
Late last month, it was informed that St Andrews could no longer field a competitive A grade team which would reduce the teams from eight to seven, forcing a bye for the second season in a row.
This came as a blow to the executive, as its main aim this season was to avoid the bye.
Last year, players were dropping back from A grade to C grade in their weeks off, distorting results and according to president Anthony Martin, causing a bit of friction.
The Association tried to then eliminate the A grade bye, asking Halls Gap if it could step up, but the club declined, citing lack of players.
Its next option was to put reigning B grade team, Swifts/Great Western into A grade which would mean for the first time in Association history, there would be two teams from the one club in the premier competition.
However Swifts/Great Western also declined the invitation.
Grampians Cricket Association had eventually resigned to having the bye in A grade before being informed by Navarre, who had been lifted up from B grade after finishing runner up in 2012/13, that it too, didn't have the players to contest the A grade competition.
It was decided at a meeting last Sunday night that A grade will go ahead with six teams.
The highlight of round one will be the grand final replay between Tatyoon and Swifts/Great Western, with the Combine seeking revenge for the grand final defeat.
Swifts/Great Western haven't lost any players from 2012/13, with their young talented players in Jackson Dark, Jamie Bach, Tom Eckel and Tom McCord set to step up.
Batsman Sam Cocks is another player who had an outstanding 2012/13 campaign, recording an unbeaten double century and he will be looking to continue his good form for the Combine.
Dark, Bach, Eckel and McCord are poised to share a lot more of the bowling workload and they face the ultimate test first up against Taty batsmen Jarred Blandford, Tim McDougall, Lachlan Laidlaw and Andrew Ward.
Tatyoon has lost Nathan O'Brien (Geelong), but have gained spinner Matt Harris, all-rounder Jake Williamson from Aradale and former Pomonal batsman Matt Moore.
Youth Club will be looking to go one further this season and reach the A grade grand final in 2013/14.
Although it won't be easy for the Clubbers, who have lost talented youngster Zac Marrow (Northcote).
They will be relying on Angus Barham and Cam Kimber to lead the bowling attack, while Jamie Solyom, Steve Le Gassick and Todd Matthews will be looking to keep the run rate ticking over this summer.
Buangor showed great improvement towards the end of last season and are setting out to atone for their shock drop out of the top four just before the finals.
There has been one change, with bowler Jack Ganley leaving the club headed for Mount Clear (Ballarat).
Ben Hargreaves, Harry Ganley, Shaun Allen and Tyson Carr return while the bowling attack will be spearheaded by Jim and Jack Fraser.
Pomonal struggled last season and in a further blow, has lost batsman Nick Maddison (Warrnambool) but has regained Tim O'Connor (Ballarat).
Aradale will be hoping it can again challenge for finals in 2013/14. Brent Tate, Matthew Baldock and John Butler will be the keys.
- See page 39 of today's Stawell Times-News or visit http://grampiansca.vic.cricket.com.au/ for A, B and C grade cricket draws.