GOULBURN Murray team manager Dylan Cuttriss says his side is ready to embrace the challenge of being the hunted in division one of the Bendigo Country Week cricket carnival that starts on Monday.
Goulburn Murray enters the 2018 carnival as the defending division one premier after claiming its second title in four seasons last year by thrashing Murray Valley by eight wickets in the final.
It will be a new-look Goulburn Murray side that returns to Bendigo for its title defence, but one that Cuttriss is confident will equip itself well.
READ MORE – LAST YEAR’S DIVISION ONE FINAL MATCH REPORT
Of the team that won last year’s title, the only returning players for Goulburn Murray are Cuttriss, fellow team manager Michael Hill, Darcy Elliott and Shannon Bish.
“It’s always tough for players to get the week off, and there’s also Melbourne Country Week coming up next month, but we’re very confident we’ll have a side that is going to be very competitive,” Cuttriss said.
“We won it last year and we’re certainly keen to have another good crack at it.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in the first few days to get yourself in a position to play in the final, but if we can do the right things early on then we’re confident we’ll give ourselves a chance to have a crack on the Friday.”
Goulburn Murray will be joined by Emu Valley, Northern Districts, Castlemaine, Gisborne and Murray Valley in division one.
RELATED – LAST YEAR’S COUNTRY WEEK FINALS PHOTOS
Castlemaine has been promoted after winning the division two title last year.
Emu Valley has been given a reprieve in division one. After going through last year’s carnival winless and finishing last, Emu Valley has held its spot in the top division following the withdrawal of Ferntree Gully.
Monday’s opening day is highlighted by the grand final rematch between Goulburn Murray and Murray Valley at Rochester’s Moon Oval.
This year’s carnival again features three divisions and a total of 20 teams competing.
A hot week is ahead for players, with four of the five days to be played in at least 33 degree temperatures, with a particular watch on Thursday when the maximum is forecast to be 41.
• 2018 COUNTRY WEEK DRAW:
Emu Valley v Northern Districts at Windridge Oval
Castlemaine v Gisborne at Camp Reserve
Goulburn Murray v Murray Valley at Moon Oval
Northern Districts v Murray Valley at White Hills
Gisborne v Emu Valley at Eaglehawk
Goulburn Murray v Castlemaine at Kangaroo Flat
Castlemaine v Murray Valley at Wesley Hill
Emu Valley v Goulburn Murray at Strathdale
Gisborne v Northern Districts at White Hills
Gisborne v Murray Valley at Eaglehawk
Emu Valley v Castlemaine at Strathfieldsaye
Northern Districts v Goulburn Murray at Kangaroo Flat
Final at QEO
Wangaratta v Maryborough at QEO
Portland v Grassmere at Golden Square
Colac v Red Cliffs at Kangaroo Flat
Red Cliffs v Wangaratta at Kennington
Maryborough v Portland at Golden Square
Grassmere v Colac at Weeroona Oval
Portland v Wangaratta at Eaglehawk
Colac v Maryborough at Weeroona Oval
Grassmere v Red Cliffs at Kennington
Wangaratta v Colac at Kennington
Red Cliffs v Portland at Strathdale
Grassmere v Maryborough at Maryborough
Final at Strathdale
Bendigo Colts v Upper Loddon at White Hills
Colac Colts v Wimmera-Mallee at Eaglehawk
Grampians Colts v Swan Hill at Weeroona Oval
Grassmere v Northern United at North Bendigo
Wimmera-Mallee v Grampians Colts at Strathfieldsaye
Northern United v Colac Colts at Huntly
Swan Hill v Bendigo Colts at Strathdale
Upper Loddon v Grassmere at North Bendigo
Northern United v Grampians Colts at Raywood
Bendigo Colts v Wimmera-Mallee at Strathfieldsaye
Colac Colts v Grassmere at Huntly
Swan Hill v Upper Loddon at Kangaroo Flat
Grassmere v Grampians Colts at Huntly
Colac Colts v Bendigo Colts at Golden Square
Swan Hill v Wimmera-Mallee at North Bendigo
Upper Loddon v Northern United at Heathcote
Final at Strathfieldsaye
Monday – 28
Tuesday – 33
Wednesday – 36
Thursday – 41
Friday – 38
2017 – Goulburn Murray
2016 – Gisborne
2015 – Northern Districts
2014 – Goulburn Murray
2013 – Ferntree Gully
2012 – Murray Valley
2011 – Murray Valley
2017 – Castlemaine
2016 – Murray Valley
2015 – Gisborne
2014 – Emu Valley
2013 – Deniliquin
2012 – Gisborne
2011 – Portland
2017 – Wangaratta
2016 – Maryborough
2015 – Red Cliffs
2014 – Bendigo Colts
2013 – Goulburn
2012 – Swan Hill
2011 – Wimmera-Mallee