BURBAGE & Easton Royal captain Tom Wallbridge is hoping that marquee signing Michael Papps can help his club push on to the next level.

Wallbridge’s side have pulled off by a coup by securing former New Zealand international Papps, who featured in eight test matches and six one-day internationals for the Black Caps, as their overseas player for next season.

The 33-year-old batsman and wicket keeper, who has faced the likes of Freddie Flintoff and Brett Lee, played alongside Burbage’s Souresh Muhkerjee for Scottish side Ayr.

And excited skipper Wallbridge is hoping to make the most of Papps’ spell with the West of England Premier League (WEPL) Wiltshire Division hopefuls.

“He’s played up in Scotland for the last three summers and Souresh had a word with him about coming over here and the rest, as they say, is history,” said Wallbridge.

“It’s a fantastic signing for us. We’re all at the age where we’re getting into our primes but could still learn a lot from someone of his pedigree.

“We’re going to have him coach some of the youngsters and we’ll be the only place in the area to offer that – we’re also offering his services to a few local schools too.

“We’ve also signed Paul Stoddard as our new coach this season and we’re hoping that will help us a lot because a lot of us have been coached by him in the past and he’s one of the best in Wiltshire.

“A few years ago, the club got relegated to Division Two (of the Wiltshire League) and we had to have a good look at ourselves.

“Now we’ve had two promotions in three years and narrowly missed out on making it three from three last year – this could help us get to the next level again.”

Burbage missed out on promotion to the Glos/Wilts Division of the WEPL by a whisker last season as they finished just three points behind champions Lechlade and Wallbridge says that his side’s aim is to get over the line next summer.

He added: “We want to try and go one better this year but we know that’s going to be a tough league with the likes of Swindon, Trowbridge and Winsley coming in to it.”