Jet-lag will be the biggest battle for Newcastle City trio Dylan Hunter, Kai Appleby and Toby Fynn ahead of Saturday’s first grade season opener.
The Sabres signings all touched down in Australia progressively during this week following their respective stints playing in England.
All-rounder Hunter returns to his junior club after a couple of years away, versatile Appleby lines up for his second summer as an overseas player in the Newcastle District Cricket Association while fast bowler Fynn will be on debut Down Under.
The trio will combine forces against Toronto at Ron Hill Oval. Opponents the Kookaburras will wear specially-designed black armbands to honour much-loved clubman Robert “Dutchy” Holland, whose funeral service was attended by hundreds at Christchurch Cathedral on Thursday.
Elsewhere in round one and defending champions Hamilton-Wickham will be without most of last season’s grand final side, including captain Josh Trappel, when they travel to meet Charlestown on Saturday. The Pumas will instead be led by wicketkeeper Ben Balcomb while the Magpies are missing ACT-NSW Country representatives Josh Claridge and Glenn Windsor at the Under-17 National Championships on the Sunshine Coast.
Aiden Bills will debut for Stockton-Raymond Terrace when they host University, who will have new recruit Sam Reading take the gloves.
Josh Emerton will have his first match in Wests colours when the Rosellas take on last season’s wooden spooners Cardiff-Boolaroo.
With captain-coach Nathan Price on holidays Wallsend will have former skipper Jake Montgomery in charge for their home encounter with Merewether, whose captain Simon Moore remains at odds with Tom Locker Cup games recently being cutback to 40 overs.
And at Waratah Oval visitors Belmont will face up against former first-class quick Burt Cockley following his indefinite return to Waratah-Mayfield.
Pink cricket balls are being introduced for one-day fixtures.
Play starts at 11:30am.