Caption: Wallan captain coach Steve Bell, pictured last season, will lead his side in the McIntyre Cup on Saturday.

By Tricia Mifsud

WALLAN Cricket Club will play among the Gisborne and District Cricket Association’s best competition, after being elevated to the McIntyre Cup for the 2021-22 season.

Stepping up from the Johnstone Shield, Wallan coach and captain Steve Bell said with the change of the finals structure, from a top four to a top six, there was the possibility of his side taking one of those spots.

“Going up into the McIntyre Cup, it’s going to have it challenges for us but I think the league going to a top six finals – we’re a chance maybe for one of those lower final spots,” he said.

“There’s a few clubs that will have its challenges going up but we’re keen to give it as crack, it’s all exciting and we’re happy to be back out there.”

Bell said Wallan would field a mix of experienced players, along with some younger cricketers that the club was excited to put some game experience into in such as Campbell Fowler, Bailey Fowler, Hamish Mullavey-Clark and Archie Moore.

As for the experienced players, Wallan welcome some familiar names to its side.

“Kieran Atkin has come back to the club, he played for us a few seasons ago and was part of Bacchus Marsh last season, which won the McIntyre Cup grand final,” he said.

“Bryan Vance, who played his first season of the club last year, is also helping out the younger kids with both batting and bowling.”

Wallan president Sam Mahony said the upcoming season looked to provide an exciting challenge for all teams representing the club across various divisions.

“We are looking forward to the challenge of playing in the McIntyre Cup this season. Overall, we have four senior men’s sides, five junior boys’ sides and three junior girls’ sides,” he said.

“There is a positive vibe around the club, and people are finally looking forward to a post-COVID world, and playing sports again.”

Mahony added that if people hadn’t already signed up, and were considering a summer of cricket with Wallan, it was not too late to express their interest.

“Our numbers are good, but anyone is more than welcome to come and join; for both boys and girls,” he said.

Wallan will come up against Diggers Rest Bulla in a home match at Greenhill Reserve from 12.30pm on Saturday in the league’s opening round.

Bell said he hoped the community came along to support Wallan in what the club was anticipating was a ‘winnable’ game.

“Hopefully people come down, there’s no doubt that playing at home and having a crowd helps,” he said.

“It’s a winnable game for us.

“The way the fixture had been released for us, we’ve got some winnable games early on before the middle period where we play the top four teams from last season in consecutive weeks, so that will be challenging.”