Roar strengthen squad

Indika Massalage has joined Sunbury. (Jacob Pattison)318059_03

Tara Murray

Sunbury has strengthened its batting line up as it aims to have an instant impact in Victorian Turf Cricket Association division 2.

The Roar, which was recently promoted after a vacancy arose in the division, will have a different looking line up this season.

Jace Carton remains as coach, while Kevin Barker steps up as captain with Stephen Treweek stepping down from the role.

Carton said they were pretty excited about the new challenge ahead.

“We picked up the four main guys,” he said. “It will be a different looking side.

“The guys we have brought in bring something on and off field and they want to get involved and help the younger guys.”

Carton said they had made a real focus on strengthening the batting line up, which was one area that let them down next season.

Rasika Batepola, Indika Massalage and Gayan Welikalage and Mick Sammut have all made the move to the Roar.

The first three all join the club from Diggers Rest Bulla in the Gisborne and District Cricket Association.

Batepola, an all-rounder, is a former captain and coach of the club. He will be a batting assistant coach at the Roar.

Massalage is a powerful batter, who has a high score of 266, while Gayan Welikalage was named in the GDCA team of the year last season.

Sammut, who has had a few years off after previously playing in the GDCA, is the brother of Barker.

Carton said from last season’s grand final side, Jason McGann wouldn’t be playing this season and neither would Sajith Kalumpriya.

Carton said he wouldn’t play in the first XI as he focused more on coaching and development this season.

He said there would also still be plenty of opportunity for the younger players coming through the ranks.

Barker said after coming to the club last year, he felt right at home. He said he never planned to be captain, but it was the way it panned out.

“The club was close to home and I wanted to play on turf,” he said. “I loved every minute of it and everything they are trying to do.

“I want to help make the club a better place. Steve is an amazing friend and a great leader but he was keen to focus on his cricket.”

Barker is no stranger to leadership roles, having held many including captain and coach at Diggers Rest Bulla.

He said he was keen to use his experience to help those at the club get better.

It was Barker’s connections that played a big part in the four signings.

“We were looking to strengthen the list,” he said. “They are quality people, not just good people.

“It was a no brainer and I’m pretty excited.”

Barker, who has played at higher levels, said they were keen to test themselves at the higher level.

“We have a good blend of youth and experience,” he said. “Everyone wants to get better and we’re not there to make up the numbers.

“We’re confident of being able to give it a good shake.”