Saints blow out the rust

Rob Nikolic is again captain-coach of St Albans. (Luke Hemer)

Tara Murray

St Albans has blown out the cobwebs in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association senior division.

After a restricted and shortened pre-season due to the pandemic and then a wash out in round one, Saints captain-coach Rob Nikolic said his side was a bit rusty early on.

“It’s been a while,” he said. “It’s nice being out there and enjoying the sun.

“The first match we purely didn’t have enough runs on the board.

“We were quite happy with how we batted and bowled, but we left some runs out there.

“Against Craigieburn we did a better job. It was a par score, but we bowled well in tricky conditions.

“We were rusty to start, but the second game we were back to where we should be.”

The Saints have a similar line up to last season, with the core group returning.

They have lost last season’s leading run scorer Thilina Masmulla and Shaun McAndrew, while Yuvraj Singh has stepped up into Victorian Premier Cricket.

On the other side, they’ve added Mohammad Mehdi from Caroline Springs, who Nikolic said is someone the club is really excited about.

Nikolic said they had looked within to fill the other spots. He said they also had a number of younger players in the second and third XIs, who they hoped would step up into the top side in the coming seasons.

The one other change is Nikolic, who was captain-coach of the 2019-20 premiership side, returning to the role.

“Work commitments made it hard to be captain-coach,” he said.

“I took a step back at work and I could again take on the role. It’s my home club and the only place I’ve been.

“I want to see it do well and do everything I can to help the club win matches.”

The Saints have high expectations again this season on the back of successive finals series. The Saints finished last season as minor premiers, before being beaten by the Doutta Stars in the semi finals.

Nikolic knows staying towards the top won’t be easy.

“We’ve played finals the last few years, we want to be back there again.

“The competition seems really tight with a lot of sides having improved, we have to take it week by week.”

The Saints are set to play Westmeadows on Saturday.