An influx of overseas players is certain to ensure a hotly contested Goulburn Murray Cricket season, which kicks off with a one-day round this weekend.
Most clubs have enticed imports and are looking to big seasons.
Cooma Cricket Club, which made the finals for the first time last season, has recruited Andrew Appleton, a left-arm off spinner who has represented Scotland at under-19 level.
He hails from the Stewart Melville College in Edinburgh where last year’s Cooma import Elliott Ruthven hails from.
Appleton is a handy middle-order batsman who should bolster the depth of the Cooma batting line-up led by Michael Hill, Liam Barrett and Steve Barrett.
Cooma is hoping to build on last season when it made the semi-finals for the first time since the Kyabram-Campaspe associations’ merger and make a serious assault on this year’s flag, which would be its first at the top level in the past 42 years.
Last season’s runners-up Kyabram Fire Brigade is looking forward to another successful season with four handy recruits — two from England and two from rival club Echuca South.
Liverpool’s Sam Kerwin, a right-hand top-order batsman and Lincolnshire’s Henry Charlton, a left-hand opening batsman and medium pacer are English imports.
The Firemen have also recruited Jayden Rosin and Shannon O’Brien from Echuca South.
Rosin is a classy all-rounder and O’Brien a right-hand medium pacer who can make runs in the lower-order.
With premier batsmen Paul Newman and Daniel Kent to head its batting line-up the Flames should be hard to beat.
Tongala is also anticipating a much-improved season with some returning players and one and possibly two star recruits.
Blake Campbell, once the most feared quick bowler in the former Kyabram association, is making a comeback with high expectations that his brother Brad will also line up.
Brad was regarded as one of the best batsmen of the modern era when he formerly played with the club.
The Ohlsen brothers, Darin and Matt, have also committed to play again and will be handy additions.
A recruit is Ryley Cowley from Girgarre who topped his club and the association wicket-takers in B-grade last season.
Englishman John Copeland is also returning, while some of the younger players in the club in Elijah Gillie and Clayton Thompson are expected to be given their chance.
Stanhope is another club which missed the finals last season with expectations of a much better year.
Two English imports in Cameron Smith and Alex Heaton, both from Manchester, will bolster their ranks along with Cricket Shepparton Old Students recruits Nav Gill and Mani Singh.
Smith and Gill are opening bowlers, Heaton a wicketkeeper-batsman and Singh a top-order batsman.
They’ll join captain Mick Coad and stalwarts Steve Hall, Matt Evans and Brian Cowley in a bid to play finals.