THE Bassetlaw and District Cricket League season begins this Saturday and ,for the first time in a long while, it is virtually impossible to pick which team will stay the distance and gain promotion to the Nottinghamshire Premier League in 2013.
Last season although they had only gained promotion from Division One in 2010, it was fairly obvious that with the financial clout that Worksop had at the back of them that they would take a lot of stopping and they did, even though Farnsfield put up a valiant fight and would have been crowned champions in virtually every other season.
However, this season looks totally different and looking through the teams nobody seems to stand out as being so far ahead of the others.
Let’s start at KIVETON PARK, the relegated side from the Nottinghamshire Premier League.
Lee Brooks, one of the most enterprising leaders anywhere, continues to skipper the side and they have added two very good signings in Matthew Hall from Glapwell, and Adam Whiteley from Mansfield Hosiery Mills.
In addition Luke Donaghy has been appointed vice-captain and he and Brooks will form the best spin attack in the league.
Matt Hall has captained the league side and is one of the best all round cricketers in the league. Whiteley is a quality wicket-keeper batsman who has had hand problems of late but we are given to believe that all that is now cleared up.
One bit of bad news is that Kiveton have lost the services of Chris Hadley, who has retired, but in his time there has been a revelation as an opening batsman and wicket-keeper.
That mercurial Sri Lankan Amila Perera has returned for another season at ANSTON, who on their day are capable of beating anyone.
Perera is sheer class and his enthusiasm has rubbed off onto the rest of the team.
Under the excellent leadership of Mark Parkinson, Anston have become a highly respected side in the Championship and will be again this season.
Andrew Stoneman has returned from Clumber Park and Martin Long, Andrew Ruczenczyn and Jon Plant form the backbone of a good side.
One player they have high hopes for is their young wicket-keeper Callum Smith, and they have a number of good young players chomping at the bit to come through if things go wrong.
Anston are a good side who shouldn’t have any trouble in making their presence felt.
How do you replace a player who scored 1,366 runs at an average of 195.14?
It’s simple really, you don’t!
That is the task facing FARNSFIELD this season with the loss of Aussie batsman Mark Hanson.
Paul Delaney will captain the side for most of the season unless Paul Franks is playing, and apart from the signing of Matt Thompson from Kirkby Portland, there is little or no change from the side who did so well last term.
They do have probably the best youth set-up in the league and a whole host of good players are at their disposal.
Callum McKenzie has played in Australia this winter and should be even better for that whilst Dave Loveridge, who topped the league bowling average last season, shows no sign of his powers waning with his well-flighted slow bowling.
The opening bowling team of Neil Sharpe and Jamie Wagstaff will once again prove a problem to all opposition but the absence of Mark Hanson will be a key factor.
There are overseas players and overseas players and this one was exceptional.
Promoted HARTHILL are a complete mystery in their first season at this level.
They have lost the services of Jamar Griffith who is plying his trade in the Lancashire League this Summer, but feel they have a very adequate replacement in South African all-rounder Jeffrey Myburgh.
This young cricketer is highly considered at home and is a top order batsman and a rather quick bowler.
They have also captured the services of a batsman/leg spinning all rounder Daniel Marcus and Nathan Morris from Thoresby Colliery.
Ian Briggs once again captains the side, which includes some very good young players and some experienced ones.
They are difficult to assess and it will be interesting how they cope at this level.
GLAPWELL have probably been the busiest side of all in the close season, recruiting several new players and losing a couple into the bargain.
Australian Matthew Goodwright will skipper the side this time and they have brought in a wicket-keeper batsman Andy Stewart from Cambridgeshire, Liam Douglas from Staveley Welfare, Liam Dudley from Kirkby Portland, Richard Garfoot from Holmewood and Ricky Csomer has returned from Shipley Hall.
In addition another proposed deal had not been quite finalized as we went to print. Along with a solid bedrock from last season, another good season seems likely, however, Matt Hall has left to join Kiveton Park whilst Shaun Johnson has joined Staveley Welfare.
Another side who have had a busy close season is MARSHALLS of Gainsborough.
They have a new captain in Gary Andrews, but the good news is that Paul Van den Heuval is still there as well.
In addition a good Australian all-rounder Samuel Carlon has been registered and middle order batsman/leg spinner Matthew Snee has joined them from Messingham in the Lincolnshire League. This 21-year-old looks to be a very good signing having played regularly in the Premier League and also for Lincolnshire.
Another player they are hopeful about is Rob Ridler who played in Gainsborough before moving away but is now back.
Mark Whitlam will be back after injury and Greg Andrews is also back in contention of a place. Marshalls look to have strengthened their side very well and will be looking forward to a good season.
A player who scored 1087 runs at an average of 57.21 last season, Jonathan Loates will be a big loss to NORTH WHEATLEY WITH LEVERTON as he has opted to join Nottinghamshire Premier League side Welbeck this season.
In the light of this North Wheatley have appointed Richard Robinson as captain and Cameron Parker who is primarily a batsman has come over from Australia and is known as a player who builds an innings rather than flamboyantly smashing the ball to all parts of the ground.
Another new signing is the highly thought of opening batsman Will Shaw who has joined them from Milton as has James Hubball a useful middle order batsman and medium paced bowler from Firbeck who was formerly with Kiveton Park and Worksop.
It’s very much the same at NOTTS. & ARNOLD AMATEUR as they continue their youth development policy which is now seeing some good players emerging. Dave Wood is once again in charge and they are hoping that Sri Lankan Dilhan Cooray will be back once again.
They have signed on a very talented young player, Liam Patterson-White from Basford Mill, and he is certainly one for the future.
They still possess the league’s No. 1 all-rounder Ian Flood and are hopeful that this season will see some of the young talent actually making its mark in the first XI.
A side who flattered to deceive last season was ORDSALL BRIDON, but they are hoping for better things this season.
One thing they must get rid of is the amazing amount of extras that they conceded as they regularly gave every side they played about 30 to 40 runs start.
If they can get rid of this then they will threaten the very best. Marc Brewer again captains the side and they welcome back that excellent all rounder Darren Spooner from neighbours Retford.
The nucleus of a good side is there with all rounder James Brice and the talented brothers George and Henry Appleyard.
Two further young brothers Luke and Jake Tong also carry a lot of faith from the club and the only disappointment is that they have lost the services of Aaron Haycock to Tickhill.
After one of the worst season’s in their history, RETFORD will be hoping for better things this season.
They have signed an Australian opening batsman David Mitchell from Sydney and another opening batsman the consistent Mark Bull has joined them from Killamarsh.
Another newcomer is Charlie Maloney who has rejoined the club from Weston. Maloney is a wicket-keeper batsman who was with Retford until two years ago.
The rest of the side is made up of long serving stalwarts such as John Musgrove, Pascal Broadley, Sam Shepherd, and Alan Pattenden, their slow bowler, has decided against retirement and is once again available
Another side relying on virtually the same combination as last season is THORESBY COLLIERY. Martin Cheshire is captain once again and they have recruited an opening bowler from New Zealand in Ben Blackman and they believe he will make people sit up and take notice.
In addition they have blooded several young players over the last few seasons and once again they expect their progress to continue.
Lee Willis, Danny Tyson and wicket-keeper batsman Ben Marson are all bright hopes for the future and, along with Farook Aziz, Nyeem Ahmed and the rest of the side which finished last season so well, they are expecting good things.
The second promoted side, WEST INDIAN CAVALIERS II, rely very heavily on the side which got them up last season.
Kamran Afzaal is the new captain whilst their middle order looks very strong with Harris Butt, Orson Nurse and Pat Gada looking a very good combination.
They also have a decent bowling attack with a good slice of variation to it with Zubin Faisal and Umar Zamman providing the spin and Tatendo Mukome being the spearhead with the pace.
Once again they are a difficult side to asses, but they might just surprise some people.
See next week’s Chad for full first weekend round-up.