Clubbers look to rebound

Sangaran Nandhalal has joined Yarraville Club. (Damjan Janevski)

Tara Murray

Yarraville Club has addressed its biggest needs as it aims to return to the Victorian Turf Cricket Association senior division finals.

The club has recruited a couple of strong batsmen, while adding a bit more youth and depth to the core group in the off season.

Coach Mitch Johnstone said they were two areas they struggled a bit with last season.

“We’ve had an influx of kids,” he said.

“The kids have come from different clubs to look for the development opportunity.

“Opportunities under Trent Lawford and the other coaches. It’s been challenging with a limited junior base.

“We want to build that up and we’ve got some kids who want to play on turf. Most of those guys will be first and seconds players.

“We’ve also looked to reinforce our top order batting. We identified both of those needs at the end of last season.”

The Clubbers have added two key players to their first XI side. The side was competitive for most of last season, before slipping from finals contention late in the piece.

Justin Bramble will bat in the top three and take on the wicketkeeping duties.

Sangaran Nandhalal, who was named a wicketkeeper-batsman in the senior division team of the year last season, has come across from premiers Sunshine United.

Johnstone said they would both help in allowing the side to set some good totals.

“Justin will help give us an attacking edge in the top three,” he said.

“Sangaran will bat in the middle order. I’m really happy with those two.

“Andrew Cullen is like a new player too. He only played the last three games last year and he’s a premiership player and former captain.

“They’re premiership players and highly experienced. It will give us a bit more backbone in the batting unit, which was understrength last year.”

Johnstone said as well as the inclusion of those players, they were expecting Luke Destito and Aaron Cheesley to step up and play more of a role.

Both have been in the first XI side in recent seasons.

On the other side, the Clubbers have lost Connor Poulton and Alistair Powell to Victorian Premier Cricket. Johnstone said while it was disappointing to lose them, they both went with the club’s blessing.

He said they hoped to have more players in the position in years to come.

For Johnstone, who is in his second season at the club, he’s hoping to build on what they were able to do last season.

He said it was easier this time round having to deal with a limited pre-season due to COVID-19, as he already knows most of the players.

“Last season we sort of recalibrate,” he said.

“It was a learning experience and we had 19 players in the first team across 11 or 12 games.

“We were around the mark for the majority of the year, before giving some more kids a go at the end.

“The aim is to play finals with our recruits.”

The VTCA season is currently set down to kick off on November 13.