AFTER a horror second half to last season, Croydon needed more than words to lift itself up the Victorian Sub District Cricket Association ladder this term.
New Kookaburras captain Hagan Shakespeare hopes to bring plenty of runs along with a few sage words to his new club.
The signing of the 28-year-old former Ringwood and Northcote player is a major move for the Kookaburras, who will also return to their home ground, Croydon Oval, in late October after the ground has been resurfaced over the past year.
For Shakespeare the move brings him closer to home in Wonga Park and gives him a chance to help a local club while staying at a high level of cricket.
"I suppose playing with Northcote towards the end of last season, circumstances outside of cricket left me feeling like I couldn't commit to Premier Cricket any more," he said. "I wanted to stay on turf still and as I had played Hatch cricket with Croydon, I spoke with them and it worked out from there."
Kookaburras president Alan Doherty said the skipper had already made his mark on the young side. "He is a good young man and the enthusiasm he is generating is really good," he said.
Shakespeare played his junior cricket at Wonga Park in the RDCA before moving onto Premier Cricket and his return to his home area, plus the lack of constant travel into the city, should set him up for a stellar season.
"I live in Wonga Park and I park my car at Croydon Station every day before heading in to work, so now I can get off the train and head to training," he said. "That was one of those outside factors, the extra travel of heading off to training across town."
Shakespeare is expected to fit "somewhere" into the team's top four and he may also open the batting in one-day matches.
In his first season as captain, Shakespeare said he wanted his side to become more consistent and show their talents at VSDCA level.
"The guys went into Christmas at 5-2 last year, had a win first up after Christmas, then didn't put win on the board from there," he said. "We have put in a lot of work over preseason and having some more consistency and continuity of form will help us. We need to get off to the same start this season, then go on with it."
Shakespeare said his side would again base its strengths on its bowlers while improving its batting.
"Bowling is our strength at the moment," he said. "The batting, based on what I've seen, is something we need to improve on."
Croydon Oval is in need of more sunlight to help the new grass grow following Melbourne's wet winter but Doherty said he hoped the club would be back playing on the ground by November after being told the club couldn't play on the ground for the first four weeks of the season.
"The council has been doing great work on the ground," he said. "We might not have access for the first month of season as the new grass needs warmth and sun. We have new drainage, a new turf wicket and practice facilities which are all now the equal of anyone in association."
After playing his whole junior footy career on Croydon Oval, Shakespeare said he looked forward to playing cricket on the ground this summer.
One thing Shakespeare is unlikely to be doing is bowling much, defining himself as a "batsman only". "I'm a typical batsman - I think I can bowl but I doubt I will," he joked.
Croydon Cricket Club 2012-13 fixture
October 20 and October 27 Mt Waverley v Croydon, Mt. Waverley Reserve 1pm
October 30 (T20) Croydon v Bayswater, venue tba, 5pm
November 3 Croydon v Brunswick, venue tba, 1pm November 10 and November 17 Preston v Croydon, Preston City Oval 1pm
November 13 (T20) Croydon v Oakleigh, venue tba, 5pm
November 18 Croydon v Noble Park, Croydon Oval 3.45pm
November 24 and December 1 Croydon v Ivanhoe, Croydon Oval 1pm
December 4 Ormond v Croydon, Ormond Reserve, 5pm
December 8 and December 15 Plenty Valley v Croydon, A.K. Line Reserve 1pm
December 18 (T20) Mt Waverley v Croydon, Mt Waverley Reserve 1pm
December 22 Croydon v Balwyn, Croydon Oval 12.30pm
January 12 Oakleigh v Croydon, Warrawee Park, 12.30pm
January 19 and January 26 Croydon v Bayswater, Croydon Oval, 1pm
January 29 T20 semi final
February 2 and February 9 Box Hill v Croydon Oval, Box Hill City Oval 1pm
February 16 and February 23 Croydon v Coburg, Croydon Oval 1pm
February 20 T20 final
March 2 Kew v Croydon, Victoria Park No.1 12.30pm
March 9 and March 10 semi finals 1pm
March 16 and March 17 preliminary finals 1pm
March 23 and March 24 grand final 12pm
■ T20 = Twenty20 match