There was no perfect start for Melton Centrals in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association’s west A1 competition with a first-up loss to Grand United.

Hoping to start the season on a high against Grand United – last season’s minor premiers – Centrals couldn’t put the required runs on the board.

Electing to bat, Centrals made 6-159 from its 40 overs.

In response, Grand United hit the winning runs with four wickets in hand and continued to bat out its overs, finishing 6-189.

David McDonald and Kieran Bensley took two wickets each for Centrals.

Speaking before the match, Centrals captain-coach Adam Hulett said the club would field a similar side to last season.

“Most of the playing group has returned and we’ve picked up a couple of players,” he said. “We’ve got a good group of mates who want to play together.

“Aside from that, we’ll be looking to our under-17s, which is a good side.

“We are looking to add players from that team to both our turf sides. Two or three of them played in the first and second XIs last season and we are looking to blood a few more.”

Opening bowler Andrew Zenonos, who had been playing at Melton in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association, has returned to the club having played his junior cricket there.

Hulett said they were working towards being in the mix for a top-four spot again. Last season Centrals finished second, before being knocked out in the semi-finals.

“Sometimes that is life and there wasn’t much more we could do,” he said.

“We’ve always been consistent with the ball and in the field. At times our batting let us down, but that’s just cricket.”

Centrals lower grades have had a change of competitions in the off season, moving from the Western Suburbs Churches and Community Cricket Association to the Gisborne and District Cricket Association.

Hulett said the decision to move was based on making the teams more competitive.

“Last season those teams were playing against some clubs’ first and second XI sides,” he said.

“Being in the GDCA allows them to be more competitive. It’s a credit to these guys for sticking around.”

Melton South started its season with a loss to Seabrook. The Royals made 9-156 from their overs and Graeme Bennett top scored with 49.

Seabrook made the runs in the 36th over, with five wickets in hand. Matthew Kozole and James Robertson took two wickets apiece for the Royals.

In north A1, Sydenham-Hillside claimed the points against Caroline Springs.

Caroline Springs was bowled out for 147, with Declan Highgate taking four wickets for the Sharks.

The Sharks finished 6-155, with all but one batsman getting starts.