OAKLEIGH Cricket Club coach Brendan McGuinness believes his side must score early wins in the Victorian Sub District Cricket Association to keep pace with other leading clubs.
The Oaks finished second last year and will aim to go one better after adding former Premier Cricket players McGuinness, Jarrad Dowling and Tom O'Sullivan to their batting line-up along with retaining captain Jarrod Travaglia and bowlers Toby Pinwill and Jeremy Devlin.
McGuinness said his players had done everything right over the off-season.
"The boys have lifted a notch," he said. "There is plenty of competition and the intensity at training has been high.
"We are under no illusions, we need to get off to a good start and we have some tough matches in the first four with our opening game against Box Hill and matches against Kew and Endeavour Hills."
The Oaks took the chance play a practice match on a turf wicket in Cobram last weekend, beating Kew.
"It was good to be out on an oval again and playing on turf, as we have been indoors for training for much of winter."
McGuinness is expected to open the batting alongside Sam Jones this season with Travaglia at No. 3 followed by newcomers Dowling and O'Sullivan.
"We think we have bolstered the middle order batting this year," McGuinness said.
He also pointed to the form of young all-rounders Jordan Brambleby and Tim Wells as possible dark horses in the senior side.
"The standards have been pretty high over the preseason and we have guys pushing for selection across the board," McGuinness said.
"We are looking forward to it getting started."
The Oaks are based at Warrawee Oval.
VSDCA North East 2012-2013
October 6 and October 13 Oakleigh v Box Hill, Warrawee Park Oval 1pm
October 20 and October 27 Coburg v Oakleigh, Coburg City Oval 1pm
October 30 (T20) Endeavour Hills v Oakleigh, Syd Pargenter Reserve, 5pm.
November 3 Oakleigh v Kew CC, Warrawee Park Oval 12.30pm
November 10 and November 17 Endeavour Hills v Oakleigh, Sydney Pargeter Reserve 1pm
November 13 (T20) Croydon v Oakleigh, Croydon Oval 5pm
November 18 Oakleigh v Mt Waverley, Warrawee Park Oval 3.45pm
November 24 and December 1 Brunswick v Oakleigh, A.G. Gillon Oval 1pm
December 4 (T20) Oakleigh v Mt Waverley, Warrawee Park, 5pm
December 8 and December 15 Oakleigh v Preston, Warrawee Park Oval 1pm
December 18 (T20) Oakleigh v Caulfield, Warrawee Park 5pm
December 22 Noble Park v Oakleigh, Pat Wright Snr. Oval 12.30pm
January 12 Oakleigh v Croydon, Warrawee Park Oval 12.30pm
January 19 and January 26 Plenty Valley v Oakleigh, A.K. Line Reserve 1pm
January 29 T20 semi finals
February 2 and February 9 Oakleigh v Balwyn, Warrawee Park Oval 1pm
February 16 and February 23 Oakleigh v Ivanhoe, Warrawee Park Oval 1pm
February 20 T20 grand final
March 2 Bayswater v Oakleigh, Bayswater Oval 12.30pm
March 9 and March 10 semi finals
March 16 and March 17 preliminary finals
March 23 and March 24 grand final
■ T20 = Twenty20 match