Epping has work to do if it’s to knock off reigning premier Macleod in the Diamond Valley Cricket Association’s Barclay Shield.

After starting the season with two wins, Epping is using the game against Macleod as a chance to see where it is at against the top sides.

Epping captain-coach Andrew Bennett said it was a new challenge for them.

“There have been quite a few challenges and we have quite a few players unavailable,” he said.

“Anthony Licovski and Billy McKeown, who have been our best bat and bowler so far this season, are unavailable.

“John Kulikowski has come back for his first game, so that evens it out a bit. We thought if we could get a couple of wins early on it would set us up for this week.”

Day one was a mixed bag for Epping, with periods of good cricket and other periods that left it behind the eight ball.

Epping made 187, which was a lot better than looked likely earlier on.

Bennett top scored with 81, while Aaron Amos was good support in making 71.

“There was three sessions in one day,” Bennett said. “We were 4-18 and then 6-50, but managed to get to 187. We believe that would make it a competitive game.

“Macleod likes to run through teams when they are on the back foot and it was pleasing to work our way out of it.”

After working back into the game, Epping let Macleod off the hook, so Macleod will resume at 1-84.

Bennett said if his side could get early wickets on day two, it would be in with a chance to get the win.

“They’ve got four batsmen missing from last season’s premiership side,” he said.

“If we can get a couple of wickets early, we’ll have an opportunity to have a shot of the less experienced guys. With our bowling attack, I think we can do it.”

Bennett said that overall the start to the season had been pleasing, despite several players across the top two sides missing matches.

He said the club had more depth this season, with players from the premiership winning second XI side pushing for spots.

“Players are getting selected on strong performances,” he said.

“Sitting middle of the table, we knew we needed to add to our depth.  We brought in Marc La Brooy and Aaron Amos.

“The average age of our second XI is 21 or 22. We’ve got the talent coming through the grades and pushing for spots.”

Bennett, who is in his first season as captain-coach, said finals were clearly the aim this season.

“We have to take the next step – we don’t want to be a middle of the table team,” he said.

“We’ve got two players in their 30s and the rest in their 20s and we are building a squad with Barclay experience.”