Age shall not weary them
Almost a decade ago, Greg Matthews returned a sledge from Hawkesbury spinner Anthony Kershler with "You're just an angry old man" (it's possible that not all of the adjectives have been included). Kershler now admits to being 47, and has spent the last three seasons playing Third Grade, so it's unlikely that the premiers, Manly, were very concerned when he turned up at Owen Earle Oval - especially as peak fitness is rather a distant memory for the left-armer. But Kershler, who gave NSW solid service in the mid-1990s, is still a cunning one-day bowler. Manly looked comfortable at 2-92 chasing 241, but Kershler removed Adam Crosthwaite and Ahillen Beadle in quick succession and a couple of hours later was walking from the field with 5-18 from 10 overs. Manly's title defence - which never looked easy after the loss of several valuable players - looks even tougher after the 49-run defeat.
Kershler wasn't the only veteran who excelled on the weekend. Blacktown's Tony Clark, who began his First Grade career with Sutherland in the 1980s, skittled his old club with 3-8 from 7 overs, yet still ended up on the losing side.
St George still puts out handy teams
Penrith must have enjoyed the opening overs of their game at Hurstville. The hosts were 2-7, with former Tasmanian opener and occasional barista Steve Cazzulino back in the shed. But St George is still the kind of club that fields a middle order with Moises Henriques, Kurtis Patterson and Trent Copeland. Henriques whacked 102 from as many deliveries, Patterson weighed in with 43 and Copeland finished the innings with a rapid half-century. A tough start was turned into a comfortable victory- with former University spinner Darius Visser chiming in with three wickets.
Joshua Clarke has remembered how to get past twenty
Eastern Suburbs ran up the highly respectable total of 7-244 at Raby, with the ageless Ian Moran contributing 63. Campbelltown lost a wicket early in its chase. Easts couldn't have thought that their major threat would come from Ghosts' captain Joshua Clarke. To be kind about it, Clarke's form last season was dismal. He reached twenty more often than not, but recorded only one fifty. On Saturday, though, he played a perfectly paced innings, steered his side through a middle order collapse, and was unbeaten on 140 when Campbelltown reached its target in the final over. Last season it took Clarke eight innings to score his first 140 runs. He won't be underestimated again this season.
Ed Cowan has plenty left to offer
Plenty of cricket writers expected Ed Cowan to announce his retirement when he announced that he was leaving Tasmania late last season. Instead, he signed a new contract with the Blues and expressed an ongoing enthusiasm for white ball cricket as well as the longer game. And why not, when his first offering of the Grade season was an unbeaten 58 from 53 balls, in which he by-passed the damp outfield by hitting three sixes. It would be silly to read too much into an early-season knock against a willing but plain attack on a sluggish pitch, but Cowan's class was a highlight of the day. And Nick Larkin, also under contract with the Blues, also began his season in impressive form.
First Grade can be cruel
Jack Preddey is a good cricketer. He has a sold background as an Illawarra junior, and has worked his way through the grades at Randwick-Petersham over the last two years. He had a great off-season in England, scoring runs and taking wickets in Essex club cricket. So he had earned his grading in Firsts at the start of this season. But First Grade can be a cruel game, especially when you're a young spinner. In a tight match, Preddey's three overs went for 39, and he was run out first ball. Randy-Petes went down by 13 runs. Preddey's time will come, and when it does he'll enjoy his success all the more for knowing how harsh the game can be.
Age shall not weary them