Lancaster Cricket Club are eyeing their first silverware for more than 20 years ahead of the new Northern League season.
After finishing third in 2013 the Lune Road side are confident of building on an excellent season in Ben Simm’s second full campaign in charge.
The captain believes the league is anyone’s for the taking and is quietly confident about his side’s chances.
Simm said: “The league this year is wide open, it’s hard to predict who will have their hands on the trophy come September.
“There are potentially four trophies up for grabs this year and we would love to have a run in the Lancashire Cup. We’re aiming to get our hands on one of those titles this year.
“The important thing is we have a settled side. We’re still one of the youngest outfits in the league but most of us have played together for a number of years now, so we have a good blend of youth and experience and are familiar with each others’ games.”
The Northern League itself has undergone some of the biggest logistical changes in its history over the winter, with regulations on professionals being relaxed to encompass ‘overseas amateurs’ to ease the financial burden on clubs.
The regulation change means 23-year-old New Zealander, Michael Barry, will be the overseas man at Lune Road this year.
The Auckland Aces all-rounder has impressed with both bat and ball back home and has settled in well after arriving in the country on Friday.
Simm said: “It’s a big change for us.
“Visa problems meant Jannisar (Khan) couldn’t return this year, which is disappointing as he’s a great player and a very good friend, but in Michael we have a quality cricketer.
“I could not be happier with the signing. He’s an outgoing bloke with a mature head on young shoulders which makes me confident we’ll have a productive year.”
Despite the settled side, Lancaster have seen one or two changes in their amateur ranks with left arm spinner Tom Williamson leaving for pastures new at Netherfield and Westgate’s Dylan Conroy netting with the club over the winter months.
Simm said: “We are a side blessed with left arm bowlers this year.
“Dylan really impressed on Sunday, he bowls wicket to wicket asking questions of batsmen and he showed he was as capable with bat in hand, plus he’s a right armer so he’d be a great addition if he signed.”
Last weekend saw Lancaster travel over the Pennines for a pre-season workout against Bradford League outfit Bradford and Bingley CC, the hosts making 187 all out before Simm’s side knocked off the runs in the final over with two wickets in hand.
The skipper said: “Pre season has gone well.
“We had a good stay over in Leeds and I thought that helped the team gel, plus the friendly tested us and blew off a few cobwebs.
“It’s important now that we learn from the friendly, train hard in the week and are ready for our first game this Saturday.”
Lancaster open their league account against Darwen at Lune Road this Saturday, April 19 in a 1pm start with the second 11 travelling to Birch Hall in the return fixture.