BENDIGO will be without its leading wicket taker next season after the appointment of Nathan Fitzpatrick as coach of Geelong Cricket Association club North Geelong.
Fitzpatrick joins the Magpies after playing the past four First XI seasons with Bendigo in the Bendigo District Cricket Association.
The 20-year-old has accumulated 50 wickets and 620 runs in the past two BDCA seasons.
He was one of the competition’s premier strike bowlers in 2016-17 season with 29 wickets.
Fitzpatrick leaves the Goers on good terms and said the coaching gig was something he had put a lot of thought into over the last couple of months.
"I'm going to have a crack while the opportunity is sitting there in front of me," he said.
Fitzpatrick, an opening bowler and dashing middle-order bat, said it was involvement with the Victoria Country team at the Australian Country Cricket Championships in Wollongong last season that led to his signing with North Geelong.
"I became pretty good friends with (Magpies all-rounder) Tom Mathieson at the championships, and he told me while we were up there in Wollongong that they would be looking for a new coach," he said.
"I've been doing a bit of coaching with the Northern Rivers (zone) and I was keen to get into coaching a club at some point.
"Once we got back, he contacted me and North Geelong contacted me. I had a fair few things to weigh up, but now I've decided to have a crack at it."
He joins a competition considered to be the premier cricket association in country Victoria.
The GCA boasts a formidable record at Melbourne Country Week, including back-to-back titles in the last two years.
Fitzpatrick said he was looking forward to leading a Magpies team, which finished top of the First XI ladder last season, but bowed out of the finals with successive losses.
"It was obviously a disappointing end, but hopefully I can come in and help that out," he said.
"I have spoken to a few of the boys at North Geelong, they obviously have a lot of talent, but maybe haven't been quite able to execute at the end of the season.
"Hopefully I bring a different mindset in how to go about their cricket."
Fitzpatrick, who has coached representative sides the Northern Rivers and Cricket Victoria, said there were mixed emotions leaving the Bendigo Cricket Club, a club that would always be close to his heart.
"It was obviously disappointing finishing where we did last season, but Shane (Koop) has done a fantastic job at Bendigo," he said.
"I am not leaving for any negative purposes, I love Bendigo Cricket Club.
"We would have like to have finished higher than eighth, but the competition was pretty close, we were one win off finishing off fifth.
"There was some very difficult phone calls (leaving), but everyone at Bendigo has been understanding and wishing me luck."
Fitzpatrick, who is coaching Pyramid Hill's under-18 team in this LVFNL season, has signed a one-year deal with North Geelong.