THE Bendigo District Cricket Association hits off on Saturday with a blockbuster between two of the teams expected to vie for this season's flag - Strathdale-Maristians and Bendigo United.
The Suns and Redbacks meet in a one-day match at Bell Oval from noon.
STRATHDALE - enters the season as the three-time defending premiers.
So dominant were the Suns last season, they didn't drop a game.
There has been some movement from the premiership team, with all-rounders Craig Howard (Sandhurst) and Dom Taylor (Queensland) and opening bowler Braden Hocking (Geelong) no longer at the club.
No.3 batsman Jono Davidson is recovering from a knee injury and may not play until after Christmas, while bowler Jaran McKay isn't playing this season.
Coming into the squad is ex-Huntly left-arm orthodox spinner Nick Roebuck, who will help cover the spinning loss of Howard, while young bowler Dylan Baillie will get a first XI opportunity.
The Suns have also recruited two Englishmen in Blair Marshall (batsman) and Daniel Rushworth (left-arm bowler).
Prediction - 1st.
BENDIGO UNITED - a couple of big names have been added to the batting department in Ben Gunn and Bryan Vance.
Gunn joins the Redbacks having spent the past five years at Strathfieldsaye, while Vance has previous Premier Cricket experience.
A batting line-up with Gunn, Vance, Heath Behrens, Matt Pinniger and captain Leigh McDermott will provide plenty of entertainment throughout the season.
Veteran all-rounder Nick Crawford is playing on, while the bowling will again be spearheaded by new coach Marcus Smalley and Miggy Podosky.
Prediction - 2nd