ROYAL Wootton Bassett captain Darren Beasant is hopeful his team will be able to catch newly-relegated Westbury cold in the first game of their WEPL Wiltshire season on Saturday.

Westbury were relegated from WEPL 2 – Gloucestershire-Wiltshire last season following a dismal season where they won only four games in the league, while Bassett finished comfortably mid-table despite their poor batting performances throughout the summer.

Beasant is keen to avoid similar troubles this time around and hopes the signing of Rohan Belekar – who has previously played state cricket for Goa in India – will add a touch more quality to their top order.

That talent may well be needed in the first fixture of the season too, as Bassett take on a Westbury side that boast several experienced campaigners, including former Wiltshire captain Mike Cole, among their ranks.

But Beasant is optimistic his side may be able to catch Westbury cold and said the first week as likely to be as good a week as any to try and steal a victory away from the fast and bouncy pitch at Studland Park.

He said: “We start at Westbury and, on the face of it, it’s another tough start.

“I think the last three years since we came back into WEPL, we’ve started the year away at one of the favourites for the league or one of the relegated sides. It will be a decent test for us first up.

“They’ll be disappointed to have been relegated last year, they won’t know a lot about the league.

“I think it’s many, many years since Royal Wootton Bassett played them, so they won’t know much about us and vice versa.

“In some respects, it’s a good time to play them, but we know they’ve got some outstanding individual cricketers – Mike Cole is their captain this year and they’ve got a very decent calibre of overseas players too.

“It will be a tough test, but why not go there week one? Hopefully we’ll catch them a bit cold.”

The Bassett captain also announced several team changes have taken place during the winter, including Jack Twine – a wicketkeeper-batsman – who left for Goatacre to increase his chances of being involved in the minor counties set up.

But Beasant said his side have supplemented the loss of Twine by signing all-rounder Dave West from Marlborough while three of their players, Sam Lawro, Akash Sharma and Charan Chahal, enjoyed some time over in Australia playing club cricket for sides in Melbourne during the winter.