Altona was faced with two options after losing a Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association grand final last summer.
The As could have sulked about their premiership near-miss or get back to work and strive to go one better this season.
A team captain Adam Yates has seen his playing group buy into the second option.
“We’ve worked pretty hard in the off season,” he said.
“We don’t expect it just to happen.
“We’re going to work pretty hard throughout the season and if we do that and stick to the basics well, we’ll be thereabouts.”
Altona will move into the post-Aaron Maynard era with optimism.
Maynard, for years a lock No. 3 batsman, has retired from sub-district cricket to play locally with St Francis de Sales.
Maynard was not only a run machine, but a much-loved figure at Altona, so there will be a void to be filled on and off the pitch.
“He was a great servant of the club, not just on the field, but off the field as well,” Yates said. “He’s a much-loved person and I’m sure he’ll still be around the place.
“Batting at three, he was brilliant for us, but he’s decided to go back to local level cricket.”
Replacing Maynard was not easy, but Altona believes new import Charlie Best could fill the void. The addition of Best, a wicketkeeper-batsman, will provide flexibility within the A’s line-up.
“He’ll bat in the top-four for us and give us the opportunity to play an extra bowler,” Yates said.
“We should have plenty of batting depth, down to probably seven or eight, and we’ll have seven bowling options this year.”
Altona’s bowling attack boasts three spinners, including Yates, Stefan Sidari and Sean Hollins.
Sidari was a top-10 bowler in the competition last season, taking 32 wickets. That was second only in the team to fast bowler Shannon Clarke, who took 41 wickets, second best in the competition.
Yates reckons the depth in Altona’s bowling attack will be a huge asset.
“If you’re not bowling well, you’re not going to get many overs, so it puts a lot of pressure on,” he said.
While Altona is still in a premiership window, it will continue to nurture the young talent it has coming through.
Expect to see a lot more of teenagers Mitch Cullen, an opening bowler, and Daniel Mackenzie, an all rounder, in the first XI.
Yates is also keen to see further development in the host of 15 to 17 year olds playing with the club.
“It’s all about growing from within,” he said.
Altona will open its season with a one-day game against St Bernard’s at Grant Reserve on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Yarraville will entertain Ivanhoe at the Yarraville Oval, while Williamstown will hit the road to face Coburg.