Tough 2016-17 Sydney Grade Cricket start for Sutherland against Sydney

Ben Dwarshuis

Ben Dwarshuis

Sutherland will begin their Sydney Grade Cricket season with a tough first up test against beaten grand finalists Sydney on Saturday.

It will be a fairly settled side for Sutherland at Glenn McGrath Oval, with captain Ben Dwarshuis returning to lead his young squad.

Sutherland will look to build on a decent 2015-16 campaign where they won the under-21s Poidevin-Gray Shield competition, while their young first grade team also snuck into the finals.

Sutherland have lost promising teenage spinner Devlin Malone to Sydney University and batsman Mitch Brown to premiers Bankstown. Former skipper Nathan Fitzgerald has retired, while they could also be without another talented young spinner, Riley Ayre, until Christmas after he underwent surgery on a shoulder injury.

New Zealand first-class cricketer Lachie Ferguson, who started last season with Sutherland, will return to the club most likely for round two. While another player from Auckland, all-rounder Michael Barry, could be in first grade this weekend.

Young gun: Riley Ayre will be looking for another big season. Picture: John Veage

Young gun: Riley Ayre will be looking for another big season. Picture: John Veage

Sutherland will also be joined by Worcestershire left-armer Jack Shantry in October who comes with a good recommendation from former Australian Test opener Phil Jaques.

Sutherland have shown good form in the pre-season, winning their two trials against Fairfield Liverpool and Campbelltown Camden with young batsman Tom Doyle making half-centuries in both matches.

Meanwhile, St George also have a tough start to their season when they host Bankstown at Hurstville Oval.

Gone: Mitch Brown has joined Bankstown. Picture: John Veage

Gone: Mitch Brown has joined Bankstown. Picture: John Veage

Bankstown beat St George in the semi-finals last season to end Saints’ campaign and St George will need to rely on some new faces this time around.

Former first class batsman Steve Cazzulino has retired, while Ashton May has joined Sydney University. Dubbo product Ben Patterson has joined from Hawkesbury while Saints have picked up Nick Watkins from North Sydney.

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