NEXT MAN UP: Former Norths Devils Bowler Conor Bryant (pictured) will play for Magpies this season.
NEXT MAN UP: Former Norths Devils Bowler Conor Bryant (pictured) will play for Magpies this season.

Magpies’ new-look pace attack up to the test

BATSMEN beware; runs will be hard to come by against Magpies this season.

Following a resurgent 2018-19 campaign, which took the black and white to within one game of the Poole Cup decider, Magpies made one of the key moves in the off-season with the arrival of former Norths spearhead Conor Bryant.

Bryant will join incumbent pace ace Todd Dixon to form a one-two bowling punch, which the latter hopes can return his team to premiership contention this season.

After losing last season’s third-highest wicket-taker Tyron Eyles to the UK, Dixon said it would be on him and Bryant to shoulder the bowling load to open the campaign.

Fresh from an unbeaten AFL Mackay season with the North Mackay Saints, Dixon admitted he was “a little worried” about burnout with just two weeks between his Aussie rules grand final and the start of the Poole Cup.

“It kinda snuck up on me pretty quick this year, with playing in the grand final and then almost straight into cricket season,” he said.

“But I’m pretty good with my rehab. I’ve been doing this for a few years now.”

But with Bryant bowling bullets from the opposite end and young recruit Kai Higham waiting in the wings, Magpies’ vice-captain is confident the bowling attack can do some damage.

“The young fella from Souths, Kai, he’s playing Second Grade this week and he’ll be good to watch,” Dixon said.

“He’s something like six foot four and looks pretty handy.

“With myself, Conor, Sandon (Neilsen) and Isaac Borg our off-spinner, we should be pretty good.”

Brant Attard returns to captain the team again this season and will again shoulder much of the run-scoring burden at the top of the order alongside opening partner Ardene Ruhode.

Dixon said Magpies would be without handy middle-order bat Alec Townsend for the first few rounds but hoped to get him back to bolster the line-up for the run home.

In Townsend’s stead, Dixon expects Ben Zervas to build on his impressive end to last season and become a key contributor with the bat.

“Our goal this season will be the same as last year — work on our game and play it one week at a time,” Dixon said.

Magpies face Souths tomorrow at Cameron Oval.

Dixon said a win over his former team would be the perfect way to open Magpies’ campaign.

“Especially the first round, you want to get a win to get off to a good start,” he said.

“You want to try and get most of your wins before the Christmas break, because after that it’s basically weather dependent.”