Leyland skipper David Makinson has tipped his side for more success this season.
The reigning Northern Cricket League champions open the new season tomorrow with a tough home assignment against Barrow.
The Cumbrians were one of the Fox Lane outfit’s chief challengers for the title last season, and 53-year-old Makinson is expecting a difficult test tomorrow.
However, he believes the vast experience within his squad of players should stand them in good stead for this weekend – and as the season progresses.
“It’s a good start playing Barrow,” he said. “They pushed us hard for the league last year but we nipped it on the last day.
“There are some good teams in the league this year – some have added to their squad.
“Barrow are always up there – they’ve been challenging for the last three or four years and have got a couple of new players.
“But we’ve got a core of about five or six players, who have been playing for us in the first team for a very long time.
“I am the oldest, but we have got lads aged 26 who started playing at 16 so they have been playing in the first team for 10 years. So we have plenty of experience.”
Lancashire star Luis Reece, who was Leyland’s professional last year, could still feature for the club this season, although it will all depend on his Red Rose commitments.
The club have boosted their options by signing Australian all-rounder Alex Ross.
A new league rule, which has come into force this year, allows clubs to sign overseas players on an amateur basis.
“Alex could not sign as a professional because he would have had to have played five first-class games in the last 18 months for South Australia.
“He could not get a work permit to come over as a pro.
“But he’s 22 – mainly a batsman, who can bowl both seam and offspin.
“Hopefully we won’t see too much of Luis because that will mean he is doing well for Lancashire.”
Leyland will have a new man behind the stumps as wicketkeeper Adam Coates has retired.
He will be replaced by 19-year-old Tom Murray, who has risen up through the youth ranks. Bowler Dale Jones will also be absent for the first half of the season.
Elsewhere, Chorley welcome Preston to Windsor Park.
BAC/EE Preston batsman Jamie Skeoch has tipped 17-year-old youngster Nikesh Modessa to be the star attraction this summer in the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield.
The new league season begins tomorrow with BAC/EE in action at home against Great Eccleston.
Skeoch – who has relinquished the captaincy at Bank Lane and been replaced by close friend John Mounsey – is expecting big things from Lancashire youth star Modessa.
“Nikesh is a really exciting all-rounder and I am expecting good things from him this season,” Skeoch said.
“We have actually done well to keep hold of him this season because Lancashire have been looking for him to move on and play at a better standard.
“He did well last season and he’ll be looking to kick on again this season. It will be good to see him develop.”
BAC/EE did not enjoy the best of seasons last year but Skeoch believes this year could be a lot more open than in previous years.
“I think it’s going to be quite interesting this year,” he said. “There have not been many new signings throughout the league. Look at teams like Penwortham – they have lost a few players.
“We’ve got a tough opening game against Great Eccleston tomorrow but we are at home and we always enjoy playing at home. Preparations have been good. We have won two friendlies.”
NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Chorley v Preston, Lancaster V Darwen, Leyland v Barrow, Morecambe v Fleetwood, Penrith V Kendal, St Annes v Netherfield
PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: BAC/E Preston v Great Ecclestone, Freckleton v Penwortham, Longridge v Fulwood & Broughton, Thornton Cleveleys v Garstang,Vernon Carus v Whittingham & Goosnargh,Withnell Fold v Fylde