Central Park-St Brendan’s Cricket Club has shown its hand early ahead of the Haisman Shield season.
After missing the grand final for the first time since 2003, the Tigers have upped the ante in the off-season by poaching former Mooroopna captain Andrew Cowen.
The top-order batsman (and part-time slow-medium pacer) led the Cats to their first A-grade silverware since 2013-14 in the form of the Aiden Blizzard Trophy (Twenty20 title), defeating Central Park in the decider, but will now look to return the Tigers to their regular throne as head coach.
‘‘It’s an exciting opportunity to come on board and coach at a club that has had so much success, but is also committed to junior programs and developing the youngsters coming through,’’ Cowen said.
‘‘I’m keen to get started, it’s a great opportunity and I’m really excited.’’
With the rivalry between the two clubs one of the strongest in Cricket Shepparton the move is sure to cause waves in the competition and ignite the fires of their clashes once more, but Cowen was quick to play a straight bat.
‘‘It’s more about the opportunity being there rather than looking at the club-to-club change, that was really what the move was about, it was a different opportunity and a different look at things,’’ he said.
‘‘I certainly am quite proud to say that I was a Mooroopna club captain and that sort of stuff so that won’t change.
‘‘The rivalry will be good on the field and you wouldn’t want anything else.’’
Cowen, 34, will take up the role vacated by Tiger legend Rohan Larkin, and is looking forward to making his own mark on the club.
‘‘I feel energised from it, it’s a really good progression for the next part of my career,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a real chance to give back and help grow leaders and future leaders at Central Park, I think it’s a good fit with where I’m at.
‘‘Rohan wanted to take a step back, he will still be very much involved and help out where he can. He felt it was the right time to renew with a different voice, but full credit to him and the board, they’ve left the club in a strong position for me to take over.’’
Formerly part of the Victorian Premier Cricket system with the Frankston Peninsula Cricket Club, Cowen averaged 20.5 (902 runs) with the bat and 16.96 (25 wickets) with the ball across his three seasons with Mooroopna, and will look to increase that output at his new home.
‘‘From a playing point of view to come up against Mooroopna and these other top tier clubs will be good,’’ he said.
‘‘Competition against the best gets the best out of everyone, it’s all positive.
‘‘I almost want to get revved up and started straight away, but we’re going to be there in March again so it’s about building into it.’’
The Tigers will also enter the new season with a fresh face at the top of the club, with former president Peter Holland stepping into the vice-president role and Darryl Butcher taking the reins.
‘‘I’ve got the training wheels on, I’ve been out of the loop for a number of years and it will be challenging,’’ Butcher said.
‘‘One thing I’ve learnt over the past week is that change is constant.
‘‘(But) I wouldn’t have taken it on unless I was enthusiastic about it.’’
Butcher is a past Tiger player and has more than 10 years of administrative experience after involvement with the Cricket Shepparton board, and signing Cowen was his first act in his new position.
‘‘The first thing I had to do was sign Andrew as coach,’’ Butcher said.
‘‘He’s an impressive young man and has a great resume.’’
However, Butcher did not believe the move would cause any unnecessary angst amongst Central Park’s rivals, and was hopeful Cowen could help the side return to the top.
‘‘There’s always friendly rivalry there and I think everyone in the association gets on quite well,’’ he said.
‘‘Every side strives to play in a grand final and win every year.
‘‘We’ve had a good run and it was always going to come to an end, but we hope it hasn’t ended for too long.’’
Other key positions at the club — including A-grade captain — are yet to be confirmed, but Cowen said those roles would be secured as the season draws closer.
‘‘I’ve touched base with Rum (current captain Ramadan Yze) and it will all work out in due course,’’ he said.
‘‘As an organisation the first step was to get a coach in place and the rest will follow on from there.
‘‘I look forward to hitting the track, working hard and growing the club to have success now and into the future.’’