Wollongong searching for key to Cricket Illawarra title puzzle | Illawarra Mercury

Cameron Mee


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New Wollongong coach Nathan Loveday is confident a change in mindset will be the key to helping the club break a lengthy Cricket Illawarra premiership drought. The Lighthouse Keepers started pre-season training earlier this month, the side desperate to win their first two-day title since 1971. They have been in the mix for the trophy in recent years, with Wollongong winning the 2018-19 Twenty20 competition before losing in the semi-final later that season. Read more: Wolves just getting warmed up after dominant victory The players concede the side underperformed last summer, a final-round loss to Northern Districts consigning the team to fifth. On the back of those results, Loveday plans on working closely with leaders Dave Studholme and Duncan and Lachlan Maddinson to help unlock the club’s potential. “We won’t be making any significant changes,” Loveday said. “It’s important to build on what we’ve got. “The last four or five seasons, we’ve been there or thereabouts, whereas Wollongong in the past has been a cellar dweller struggling to get wins. “We’ve been successful, we won the club championship two years ago. I don’t think we need to change things drastically. It’s just putting plans in place and making sure everyone’s aware of what we’re trying to achieve.” The summer is likely to open with a new competition, with a Greater Illawarra Zone Twenty20 tournament expected to be introduced. A final decision will be made at Sunday’s GIZ Annual General Meeting. If it goes ahead, the tournament will replace the Cricket Illawarra Twenty20 competition. The season will commence on October 3 with two weeks of short-form action, before the competition-proper begins on October 17. Preparations for the new season are ramping up, with Balgownie to start training later this month as they seek to return to the finals. Northern Districts are also eager to defend their title, but they will have to do it without Cricket Illawarra Player of the Year Elliot Hooper. Wollongong have welcomed back the majority of last year’s squad, however they are seeking a couple of additional players to help the side take that next step. The Lighthouse Keepers have looked to Hooper as a sign of how one man can elevate a team’s performances. The club is in discussions with a number of Sydney players, with St George’s Corey Fogarty committing for the season. A veteran with plenty of experience, Loveday is expecting the club’s juniors to learn a lot from the new recruit. “We have a couple of players that we’re looking at but are yet to fully commit,” Loveday said. “One that has committed is Corey Fogarty. He’s coming down from St George and hopefully a few others will come down as well. “We need to find a balance between our young guys coming through and those veterans. “We hope to be able to blood some young guys throughout the year across all formats. We’re pretty excited about the guys we have coming through.”

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