After a solid preseason, Diggers Rest Bulla is primed for a strong Gisborne and District Cricket Association’s McIntyre Cup season.

Under new coach Rasika Batepola, the Burras have managed to keep most of their side together, while adding a bit more depth.

In his first season at the club after moving to the Diggers Rest township, Batepola had been encouraged by what he had seen so far.

“It’s been a really good preseason and we had our first practice match and we won easy without our whole team due to injuries and unavailabilities,” he said.

“Everything is shaping up nicely.”

Batepola comes to the Burras after six seasons as player and coach with PEGS in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association and adds to both the Burras’ batting and bowling.

He’s joined at the club by Sumanjan Fernando, who also played first class cricket in Sri Lanka before moving out to Australia. The batsman and leg spinner most recently played with Glenroy in the VTCA.

Batepola said one area they had to look to address was the lack of variation in their bowling attack. He said with the arrival of Fernando and 16-year-old Nathan Crosland who has crossed from Ashfield, they would help fill that void.

Overall, the new coach thinks the side will be stronger than last year. He said making finals were on the radar after missing out last season.

“We didn’t have any quality spinners and now we have two,” he said. “We’ve also got Darren [Quarrell], Rhys [Berry], Lindon [Dowsett] and myself as well.”

It hasn’t been all positives, with the side losing last year’s leading run scorer Steven Fogarty, who has retuned to his old club Sunbury United which has been promoted to the top grade.

Batepola said having kept most of the side together, the players know each other’s game, making things easier. Rhys Berry will again captain the side. “It’s my first year at the club and I don’t know a lot of people,” he said.

“Rhys is a really good captain. The group knows what do to with the batting and bowling partnerships.”

The Burras kick off their season on Saturday in a one-day match against reigning premiers Gisborne.

In other McIntyre Cup matches, Bacchus Marsh plays Woodend, Romsey hosts Riddell, Sunbury plays Sunbury United in a local derby and Rupertswood plays Lancefield.

In the B-grade competition, Bacchus Marsh host newcomers Eynesbury and St Anthonys plays last season’s C-grade premiers Gisborne.