Cricket’s Hampshire League gets under way this weekend and here we preview the prospects of three Observer-area teams - Midhurst, Emsworth and Salthill.
Division: Hampshire League div one
Last season’s final position: 5th
Players in/out: Negotiations ongoing to persuade some to stay and to get new players in.
Captain: Tim Dixon
Other news: The first XI have a new captain in Tim Dixon although his predecessor Tim Powell will continue to play for the club, commuting from London. Dixon will bring his energy and enthusiasm to the role.
Having flirted with promotion last season only to fall away, Dixon realises such a high finish may prove difficult this year.
“Realistically we are targeting a top-half finish, especially as we have a number of players returning from university later in the summer,” he said.
Batting will be strong and good results will come if the batting unit functions more effectively than over the past two seasons.
Richard Gough, captaining the second XI again, believes promotion to county three is realistic.
The third XI, under the leadership of Danny Moon, will target a top-half finish.
The club have entered a 4th XI into the Hampshire League and the team will play at Rogate under the expert guidance of John Powell in regional four north east.
This underlines Midhurst’s emergence as a powerful and growing cricketing force in West Sussex and East Hampshire north of the Downs. There is a programme of Sunday fixtures and an evening team playing in local league and cup competitions.
Junior cricket thrive. Age groups from under-15 to under-seven are coached by fully-qualified coaches, and there are teams playing league cricket from under-ten to under-14.
Division: Hampshire div four south
Last season’s final position: 5th from bottom
Realistic aim for the season: Top of table, hopefully new talent, new captain, new ideas.
Captain: Mark Martin
Other news: Emsworth are looking forward to a brilliant 2012 after a manic 2011 which was their bicentennial season – hoping that the 201st year of Emsworth Cricket Club can bring good fortune.
The club’s indoor team have just won the indoor division-four championship for the first time in 20 years and have been promoted to division three.
They have been playing many friendlies before the start of the season to get players up to speed quickly after their winter hibernation.
The club are also creating a new colts section, aimed at seven to 11-year-olds in the area.
They have got a top coach and will run training for the kids on Saturday mornings.
Division: Hampshire div four south east
Realistic aim for this season: Returning to division three
Captain: Nick Bishop
Other news: The playing squad has been strengthened. Salthill also field a friendly but competitive Sunday side, playing at some wonderful venues. Sunday captain is Andy Beal.
Salthill play on 18 acres of playing fields in Fishbourne and use facilities in the Fishbourne Centre.
Work parties in the close season have achieved excellent results. They hope to have new roll-on roll-off nets arriving during the season. They now have four sightscreens.