CRICKET’S Sussex League begins this Saturday and the Observer has five local teams bidding for glory in the second and third divisions.
James Sandford has been talking to each club to find out about their hopes and personnel for the 2014 campaign.
Chichester were relegated from the Sussex Premier League last year so will play in division two this year.
Mark Bamford, Chris Kirkham, Ashton Turner and Richard Browning all left the club in the winter and have all yet to be replaced.
Captain Matthew Geffen will, therefore, have a tough job to ensure success. That is reflected in the thoughts of club chairman Graeme Bennison, who said: “We hope the season is enjoyable and competitive.”
First-team captain Brandon Hanley is in charge of the bid to improve on their seventh-place finish in division two of the Sussex League.
The additions of Sean Heather, Anthony Ender, Keelan Shoulders, George Holman and the return of James Rufey illustrate this intent.
The club compete in the National Village Cup and did exceptionally well to reach the last 16 of the tournament last time.
Club secretary Ian Burrows said: “This season with a few new players coming in to strengthen our squad, we will be looking to
improve on our 2013 position in the leagues and get a few steps closer to Lord’s in the cup.”
With burgeoning talent in the second team and the new academy side, Middleton could be ones to watch.
Bognor finished third in division three west last year and go into the new division three -which now includes east and west teams - for 2014.
They have been given a boost with the news that Zayne Bux, a talented batsmen from South Africa, has signed as overseas player for the season. Also coming back from abroad is Max Ashmore, who has been away travelling for two years.
The noticeable omission from the squad is Michael Wake, who has retired from the game.
The firsts will be led by Luke Seward, who takes over from Elliot Clarke. Second-team captain Andy Lee is charged with improving the young players.
Club representative Charlie La Foret has high hopes, saying: “We want to improve on last season’s finish of third, so the main hope is for promotion to division two, which we believe to be well within our sights.”
Stirlands had a consistent 2013 season and only narrowly missed being promoted from division three west to division two, losing out to Billingshurst. Their second-place finish earned them a spot in the new division three.
Into the squad come Sam Caldera from Chichester, Matt Reynolds (Arundel) and Torquil Deacon - but out go Sean Heather and Antony Ender - both to Middleton.
Nicholas Hunt will captain the first team, for whom this season is expected to about consolidation and developing consistency with both bat and ball after a winter of change.
Stirlands have decided not to employ the services of an overseas player for this season.
Pagham ended fourth in division three west last season, which ensured they would be in the newly-formed division three for 2014.
Their only new recruit is Justin Scott, who has joined from Chichester Priory Park. They had hoped to have the same overseas player as last year - Jamual Fernandez from Antigua - but this now looks like it won’t happen.
Stuart Rutter remains captain and will hopefully have an injury-free season. The club’s main aim is to remain in division three and hopefully push for promotion.
Pagham desperately need someone to umpire their 2nd XI matches - contact Paul Rutter on 07801 138007 if you can help. All expenses will be paid.
All our local clubs said they were always looking for new players, supporters and sponsors so do get along to watch them this summer if you can.
Follow all the local cricket action weekly in the Observer, and don’t miss our Sussex League round-up every Sunday at www.chichester.co.uk