Two keys return for the Burras

Rasika Batepola is back for Diggers Rest Bulla. (Shawn Smits) 203535_04

Tara Murray

Diggers Rest Bulla’s Gisborne and District Cricket Association McIntyre Cup hopes this season have received two big boosts.

The Burras, who finished sixth last season hope to have kept most of their squad together, while getting back two former stars of the competition’

Former coach Rasika Batepola returns to the club having coached elsewhere the last couple of years.

He will be joined by Indika Massalage, who holds the highest individual score in the McIntyre Cup.

He scored 266 in the one day, in his one previous season at the Burras.

New Burras president Lindon Dowsett said they were excited to have both these guys returning to the club. Both played a big role in getting the club to a grand final in the 2019-20 season.

“They both played professional cricket in Sri Lanka,” he said. “Their knowledge and how we do the drills and on match day and the impact on the whole group.

“Ras still lives in Diggers Rest and we’ve stayed in touch. PEGS decided they were going in another direction. We’ve been nagging him to come back and the stars aligned.”

Dowsett said Batepola would help assist coach Shannon O’Keefe. O’Keefe is in his second stint as coach, he replaces Nalaka De Silva.

Dowsett said they were hoping that De Silva would remain at the club as a playing capacity.

He said things were looking good for the upcoming season.

“We’ll have four sides again with those couple of recruits, we will come back a lot stronger,” he said.

“This is my first year as president and I’m not putting much pressure on them. We made finals last year, we would like to at least make that again.”

Off field, big things are happening.

The club’s club rooms are being upgraded with Dowsett saying they were unlikely to be ready during the cricket season. He said while they would have had them for this season, but as a Diggers Rest local they were big for the whole community.

Dowsett said he was looking forward to the opportunity to take on the role as president and lead the club forward.

“I can’t wait for the pre-season to start,” he said. “It’s my first go at being president after being president for four to five years.

“I thought it would be good to step up and I can’t wait for round one.”