ELWORTH start their new season at Kidsgrove with the players already looking over their shoulders!
After a disappointing 13th-placed finish last season, the London Road side need to produce the goods out in the middle, especially with their flourishing youth policy producing players who will soon be capable of challenging for senior spots.
Junior manager Keith Underwood said: 'With nine players in Cheshire age-group squads and another 17 in South Cheshire squads, our senior players had better work very hard because the young 'uns are coming and want their team places!'
Elworth have recruited a new professional in the shape of Eastern Province all-rounder Ian Mitchell and are hoping the South African will be the catalyst for a sustained promotion push.
After engaging Sarfraz Hussain as professional for the past few seasons, the club decided for a change after finishing near the bottom of the Division One standings last summer.
Club vice-chairman Mike Hasprey explained: 'Ian was one of the star performers in the Ribblesdale League last summer with Edenfield. He topped the league's batting aggregates with 1,396 runs at an average of 69.80 and collected 68 wickets at 18.10.'
The 27-year-old Johannesburg-born left-hander has previously represented South Africa at U19s level.
The bowling department will also be strengthened by the return of popular former captain Jim Higgins, who missed most of last season with a bad back injury.
His slow right-arm off-breaks have seen him finish among the league's leading wicket takers in previous seasons and if he can stay fit, Higgins will be expecting another sizeable haul.
Mitchell aside, the only other new addition is former Haslington all-rounder Tom Hughes. But Danny Simpson has moved to Northamptonshire to work.
Elworth will be captained by Dave Palin, who topped the club's batting averages last summer at 43.05. Not far behind was his vice-captain Rob Beech.
The Seconds will be captained by Barry Bleasdale with Scott Elliott his right-hand man in the vice-captain's role.
Perhaps Elworth's greatest strength lies in their burgeoning youth section which last year won 62 matches out of 76 as three age-group teams won league championships.
The Under Nines were the inaugural champions of the South Cheshire Junior League, the U15s won the Cheshire County League and the U13s claimed a 'double' of South Moorlands Junior League and Cup.
A record number of Elworth juniors attended the final round of Cheshire and Staffordshire winter courses from which the county squads will be selected.
The Murray Smith Cheshire County, Meller Braggins Cheshire, J Whitfield and Sons North Staffs and District and Cheshire Building Society Alliance Leagues swing into action on April 24. A full preview will appear in next week's Chronicle.