Round three of the Bendigo District Cricket Association kicks off on Saturday with the first of the two-day games.
BENDIGO v STRATHDALE - Atkins Street
Bendigo - Massive challenge for Bendigo coming up against the three-time defending premiers at Atkins Street.
The Goers haven’t defeated Strathdale-Maristians since an 81-run win over the Suns in round five of the 2002-03 season.
That winless streak against the Suns of more than a decade is likely to continue this game, but this is a tremendous opportunity for the younger brigade, led by Alex Pearson, Mitchell Blackman, Craig Pearce and Nathan Fitzpatrick, to test themselves against the modern day benchmark.
Strathdale - After three flags in a row, are the Suns dropping back to the pack?
Lost to Eaglehawk last week to end a 26-game unbeaten streak, while in round one they just scraped past Bendigo United on the second last ball.
But it’s still only early and you’d expect come March the Suns will be right in the thick of the action again.
Ben DeAraugo has top-scored for the Suns in both games, while Cameron Taylor will be relishing a return to Atkins Street, where he scored two tons against Bendigo last season.
BENDIGO UNITED v SANDHURST - Harry Trott Oval
Bendigo United - Just ask star Bendigo United batsmen Heath Behrens and Ben Gunn how great a leveller the game of cricket is.
In their first two hits of the season both Behrens and Gunn have scored a century and a duck.
While they have been up and down, Matt Pinniger has got off to a flyer with scores of 76 and 73 to lead the competition with 149 runs.
The Redbacks have named boom recruit Bryan Vance for his first game at the club, but have lost opening bowler Marcus Smalley to a groin injury.
Sandhurst - The Dragons are on the bottom of the ladder and now face one of the BDCA’s toughest assignments at Harry Trott Oval against Bendigo United.
Bendigo United has caused Sandhurst plenty of grief, with the Dragons not having beaten the Redbacks since round eight, 2001-02.
Can’t afford to let Bendigo United off the hook like they did Golden Square last week when they spilled eight catches in a 40-run loss.
Nick Scullie (69 runs) and Liam Bowe (four wickets) are the stats leaders.
EAGLEHAWK v KANGAROO FLAT - Canterbury Park
Eaglehawk - only early in the season, but the Hawks have put their hands up as one of the sides to beat.
Last week became the team to end Strathdale-Maristians’ 26-game unbeaten streak with a three-wicket win, which followed a comfortable victory over Sandhurst.
The early-season success has been simply built on even contributions.
Only Cory Jacobs (68 against Sandhurst) has made a score of more than 40, while no player has taken more than two wickets in an innings.
No Matt Fitt in the side this game.
KANGAROO FLAT - The Roos are 0-2 and will be rueing missed opportunities.
Both their losses to Huntly-North Epsom and Golden Square have been by less than 20 runs batting second.
Only Brent Hamblin and Daniel Barber have made scores of more than 30, so they’re going to need more out of their batsmen if they are to challenge Eaglehawk.
Captain Adam Burns gave a reminder of just how good a bowler he still is with his eight overs against Huntly last week conceding just 10 runs.
STRATHFIELDSAYE v WHITE HILLS - Tannery Lane
Strathfieldsaye - Back on their home deck where they defeated Bendigo in round one and should be confident they can take it up to White Hills.
The Jets’ bowlers are coming off a tough day last week when Bendigo United pounded 3-234 off 45 overs against them.
However, they were gallant in their run-chase with a reply of 8-211, with Ben Devanny’s (57) impressive start to the season continuing.
Disappointing news for the Jets with captain Greg Lyon’s season now looking over thanks to a knee injury.
White Hills - The Demons have been one of the surprise packets early in the season.
Have won two games to already double their tally of wins from last season, and will start favourites this round to go 3-0.
Brayden Stepien, Gareth Davies and Joel Logan have all compiled half-centuries in the first two rounds, while new leg-spinner Jake Foley (five) is among the BDCA’s leading wicket-takers.
Positive signs for the Demons, with the challenge now to maintain their encouraging start.
GOLDEN SQUARE v HUNTLY-NORTH EPSOM - MyJet Oval
Golden Square - A 2-0 start for Golden Square, having proven too good for Sandhurst and Kangaroo Flat in its opening two games.
Three-time BDCA Cricketer of the Year Scott Johnson has been quick to again stamp his authority on the competition, making 106 last week against Sandhurst to go with three wickets and two catches.
Johnson's five votes last week in the Bendigo Advertiser-Bicknells Player of the Year Award was the 21st time since the 2007-08 season he has picked up the maximum votes.
Grant Connelly (108 runs) and Jason Johnson (82) have also made good starts with the bat, while Luke Baird has picked up five wickets.
Huntly-North Epsom - Notched up its first win last week with an 18-run victory over Kangaroo Flat.
Captain Linc McRae (51 runs) and Michael Hanson (78) have both scored half-centuries in the opening two games, while the Power will be hoping recruit Dylan Gibson (0 and 2) can find some form with the bat.
Will be underdogs for this game, but as they proved twice last season, the Power match-up well with Square.