The captains of the eight teams in the competition. Left to right: Ben Oakley, Wests, Andrew Barnett, Norths, Josh Kentwell, Ginninderra, Michael Delaney, Weston Creek, Mark Bennett, ANU, Michael Barrington-Smith, Tuggeranong, Michael Spaseski, Eastlake and Josh Bennett, Queanbeyan. Photo: Graham Tidy
Weston Creek captain-coach Michael Delaney says Cricket ACT should consider billeting out Comets representative players to local clubs to help even out the territory's grade competition as most captains tipped Queanbeyan to return to top of the ladder.
The eight captains have predicted the Bluebags and Wests-Uni of Canberra as the teams to beat this summer as the ACT grade cricket competitions start on Saturday.
Queanbeyan has a host of stars returning, Blake Dean crossing back from Tuggeranong to captain the Bluebags, while batsman Dean Solway has returned from a brief stint in Adelaide.
Queanbeyan has also added NSW country cricketer of the year, Josh Bennett - lured to the ACT by Comets and Queanbeyan coach Mark Higgs.
Delaney suggested Bennett could have been allocated to one of the weaker clubs to help even the competition out, but admitted it was tough to designate where players had to go.
''I'd like to see new Comets players get allocated a club by ACT, just to help some of the clubs that are struggling a little bit,'' Delaney said.
''But then it's very hard to do that to a person that's new in town and say you're going to play for this club.
Club captains were split between Queanbeyan and Wests-Uni of Canberra about who would dominate this summer.
Wests won the two-day Douglas Cup last season, while Eastlake took out the one-day John Gallop Cup.
The previous season Queanbeyan swept both of them, plus the Twenty20 and SCG Cup as well, in the club's most successful year in history.
The club slipped to fourth in the two-day and sixth in the one-day last season, but Delaney predicted a swift return to the top.
''With Blake Dean back there as captain, along with a few of the other guys from their successful team from a few years back, I think they're definitely the team to beat,'' he said.
Comets opening bowler and Wests skipper Ben Oakley agreed, but rated his own team's chances again.
''We've got a very similar side to last season with the same core group,'' Oakley said.
''You make yourself a bit of a target when you have a good year and obviously everyone else will step up to the plate to challenge us.''
Dean's return to Queanbeyan was one of the reasons they've been tipped to return to the top, but he also thought the return of Delaney from Adelaide would see Weston Creek Molonglo emerge as a contender.
''All our top players from the 2011-12 season when we won everything have come back after having a year away, so I'm confident that we'll be competitive this season,'' Dean said.
''Wests are definitely the team to beat, but Weston Creek are a side to watch.''
The John Gallop Cup resumes on Saturday, with the Douglas Cup to begin at the start of November.
John Gallop Cup: Eastlake v Tuggeranong at Kingston Oval, North Canberra Gungahlin v Western District UC at Harrison 2, Ginninderra v Queanbeyan District at Kippax 1, Weston Creek Molonglo v ANU at Stirling.