New Lalor Stars coach Josh Nixon said the limited pre-season training the club has had this season has been among the best in his time in the Diamond Valley Cricket Association.
Nixon, who takes over as coach from Steven Kemp, said everyone was keen to get out and have some fun after being locked down for several months.
“A lot of people have been in lockdown, so the excuses not to train subsides,” he said.
“We’ve been getting between 30 and 40 people at training, so we’ve had to stagger times.
“Everyone has been good with all the new codes.
“We’ve had a lot of fun and it’s some of the best training I’ve been involved in, it’s real positive signs.”
The Stars come into this season on the back of two grand final appearances earlier this year. Both matches ended in draws, with the Stars missing out on the premiership because they were the lower ranked team.
In the Money Shield grand final, the Stars were bowled out for 78, with Banyule 2-50 after day one.
Day two was called off due to COVID-19 and Banyule was awarded the premiership after finishing higher on the ladder.
The Stars have been able to strengthen their squad with three former players returning.
David Worthington returns from Victorian Premier Cricket and Matt Ceravolo from Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association.
Nathan Mittica also returns after a few years off cricket.
Nixon said they had strong core and depth across all the grades which would make selection difficult.
He said they were looking to have strong sides across the board which would suit this season’s one-day format.
“We’ve got a strong side with the likes of Steven Kemp, Aaron Amos and now David Worthington has come back.
“We’re an attacking side, which can get us into trouble at times, but it can be a real advantage.
“With one-dayers, it brings the lower sides into it as well. Any side can beat any side.
“You can’t have a week off and that is driving us this year.”
Nixon, who has previously coached at Whittlesea and Mernda, said he was excited by the coaching challenge in his second year at the Stars.
“I just love coaching,” he said. “Getting something out of the younger cricketers and getting stuff out of players from the firsts, seconds, thirds and fourths.
“Lalor persisted for a long time to get me across … I know a few of the guys and last year was really good.”
After a tough year for many people, Nixon said the club had one really clear aim this season.
“My big philosophy is to look to bring the enjoyment out for everyone,” he said.
“I don’t want it to be a chore to come down.
“If they enjoy their cricket the skill level should be up and the results should take care of itself.”
The Stars kicked off their season on Saturday with a massive win against Mill Park.
The Stars made 6-245 with Aaron Amos top scoring with 67.
Mill Park was bowled out for 110.
Skipper Nathan Andrews top scored with 46 not out.
Paul Higgins and Jamie Scott took three wickets each.
Bundoora United started its the season with a solid win against Mernda.
The Bulldogs made 9-168 from their overs, with Ross top scoring with 38.
Ryan Marnell took three wickets for the Demons.
The Demons were bowled out for 159 in the second last over.
Myer Zealley was the pick of the bowlers for the Bulldogs with four wickets.
Research Eltham Collegians proved too strong for Old Paradians.
Bundoora, which has dropped a grade, started the season with a win against Montmorency.
The Bulls made 4-187 in reply to 7-185.
In the Barclay Shield, Epping suffered a shock loss to Banyule.
The Pingers made 130 with John Lever top scoring with 24.
Banyule made the runs in the 34th over, finishing 4-131.