Lavington has followed in the footsteps of Wodonga, becoming the latest Cricket Albury-Wodonga provincial outfit to branch into the district competition.
The Panthers recruited heavily during the off-season and will make several changes to the A grade line-up in the premier competition, forcing many regulars out.
However, the decision to play in the district competition will allow the club to field three teams on turf wickets every weekend, with spots in the top side up for grabs for in-form players in both the district and provincial B grade lineups.
Mick Galvin has been named captain of the Panthers’ district outfit and is rapt to get an opportunity to continue to play a high level of cricket at Lavington.
“At the start of year, obviously recruiting a few new players made it tough for myself and few other guys like that to probably accept we’d spend most of the year in the twos,” Galvin said.
“We’re grateful the club has given us the opportunity to still play A grade cricket.
“I think everyone will be pretty much pushing to play in the provincial side.
“It’s only a good thing for the club because our 12 blokes made the grand final last year and a good number of them are going to be in the district side this year.
“We’re not there just to make up the numbers, we want to be competitive and hopefully be playing some good cricket.”
Galvin admitted Wodonga has been the benchmark of all the clubs on the Border with its ability to field a number of teams, but the Panthers are beginning to match them.
“It’s great that we’ve got the depth to be able to do it,” Galvin said.
“The fact we’re going to have three teams playing on turf is something we’re really proud of and hopefully we can have some good results.
“We haven’t talked about finals or anything like that, we just want to model our game on our provincial side and be really competitive.
“The benefits go way beyond the A grade side, having such a young provincial B grade side is fantastic for the club.
“We’ll have three or fours kids aged between 13 and 16 playing each week, which is only going to do them a world of good.
“With Robbie (Mackinlay) and Sam Harris at the top and Tim Sanson doing the provincial B grade, we should have a really good year.
“We’ve had fantastic numbers at training, especially in the couple of weeks and everyone is super excited.”
Defending CAW district premiers Mount Beauty await Lavington in the first round.
“We think we’ll have a fairly good side up at Lavington in a 50-over game against them and hopefully we can put up a good show and come away with the points,” Galvin added.
In the remaining games, Eskdale hosts new kids on the block Corowa, Howlong faces Wodonga, Baranduda meets Dederang, Yackandandah clashes with Kiewa, while Bethanga has the bye.