After a long winter of rumour, counter rumour and boycott threats, it’s finally almost time to let the players do the talking in the Notts Premier Cricket League.
The 2014 season gets underway on Saturday with each of the 12 teams looking to get their campaigns off on the right foot.
MANSFIELD HOSIERY MILLS, who will begin the season with a 50 points deduction after a winter of arguments with the league and other clubs, finished sixth last time out, despite failing to win any of their last five matches.
Hosiery Mills had finally agreed to the points penalty, which resulted from concerns expressed by the clubs about how Mills reacted to disciplinary matters in the 2013 season.
Those concerns caused the majority of clubs to consider boycotting fixtures against Mills this summer.
In December Mills had won an appeal against automatic relegation from the Premier League and a three-year ban for an alleged breach of rules on payments.
Mills welcome back Kieron Garside from his Cuckney sabbatical and will host the South Notts champion Radcliffe-on-Trent on Saturday.
Despite losing Saad Ashraf and Benjamin Mike, they have added David Lucas from Clifton and Josh Mierkalns from Caythorpe as their pro players for their return to Premier League cricket.
After finishing third as defending champions last year, CUCKNEY will look to contend again in 2014 and start their campaign at home to Bassetlaw League champions Ordsall Bridon.
The Bears have lost Kieron Garside and Richard Stroh, but have recruited Tom Driver from Kibworth as a pro, and young Australian Nic Geisler as an overseas player.
To add to those, Adam Burgess moves from Welbeck and Kashya Suresh, John Dryden and Gareth Price look to step up from the Bassetlaw.
BRIDON make their return to the Premier League with largely the squad that won them promotion, though Aqab Ahmad comes on board as their professional.
Elsewhere, PLUMTREE (ninth) host WELBECK COLLIERY (seventh).
The home side have added Graeme White from Farnsfield as a professional, and also brought in Glen Read from Middlesex club Brondesbury and Saad Ashraf from Radcliffe.
The Colliery men have been active over the winter, coaxing Richard Stroh away from Cuckney and adding former Academy player Matthew Cross as professional players. Also moving from the Academy is Andrew Parkin-Coates.
The 2013 champions, WEST INDIAN CAVALIERS, start at home to a KIMBERLEY side that managed just four outright wins last season.
On paper Cavs appear to be stronger, the club’s merger with Hyson Green Caribs bolstering numbers, together with the recruitment of former Kimberley youngster Paldip Sidhu, Kafeel Shafique from Caythorpe and a number of others, plus the signing of Samit Patel give them a formidable look.
Kimberley will be looking to the ex-Notts Academy duo of George Bacon and Tom Rowe, with James Taylor moving in from Rolls Royce to boost a line-up that still includes 2013’s young player of the year in Sam Johnson.
The potential game of the day sees last year’s runners-up ROLLS ROYCE play host to the fourth-placed NOTTS ACADEMY side.
Rolls did the double over the Academy last season, winning by six wickets and one wicket, and will be out to continue their winning ways against them.
Rolls have made a number of additions, chief amongst them being Atif Sheikh.
In addition to the usual squad turnover for the Academy, Paul Franks will lend his experience to the cause as skipper this season.
CAYTHORPE finished fifth last time out and begin 2014 where they started 2013, away to CLIFTON VILLAGE
The Villagers had a disappointing 2013, finishing just nine points above relegated Farnsfield.
In an effort to turn this around, they have brought in Shreyas Iyer from India as their overseas player, also adding Trent Turner, from Aston Manor in the Birmingham League, Matt Salmon and Harry Johnson. Daniel Mierkalns will also join his brother Caleb.
Caythorpe will be hoping to add a bit more consistency under new skipper James Hawley. Martin Dobson joins from Welbeck, and has some big boots to fill as Darren Bicknell has retired and Josh Mierkalns is off to pastures new.