THE new cricket season swings back into action on Saturday and the town’s top two teams are intent on getting off to a flying start.
The Groves, under the leadership of new skipper Mike Caulfield, host promoted Sandbach in Division Three of the TACS Partnership Cheshire League (formerly the Meller Braggins League).
Ellesmere Port, meanwhile, entertain relegated Stretton in Division One of the Cheshire Alliance.
Groves skipper Caulfield, who has taken over from Martin Flanagan, is determined to avoid a repeat of the relegation dogfights the club has fought in the last two campaigns.
He said: “We need to get off to a good start and try to get some early points on the board. I’m confident the lads will come up with the goods if they work hard and apply the talent that they have.
“We know what we need to do to stay in this league and the effort and commitment we need to put in.”
The new skipper added: “Unfortunately, a few of the possible targets we were trying to bring in didn’t materialise but I’m only interested in the players we have at the club now and getting off to a positive start.”
Groves 2nds, who travel to Sandbach 2nds for the reverse fixture on Saturday, are also under new leadership.
Their new skipper is Neil Powell, who said: “I have to work closely with Mike so that we can put out two competitive teams each week. I’m also hoping to continue the development of some of the younger players as well as they are the future of the club.”
Ellesmere Port endured a frustrating 2012 campaign, with the wet weather hindering any chance of progress.
The club’s first and second teams managed to complete only three home games between them all season.
Captain Chris Gattrell said: “The ground has had extensive drainage worked completed and we are now seeing the benefits, with the square looking better than it has for years.
“Looking forward to the season ahead, the first XI should really be looking to push for promotion. We have the players and ability to do so – now is the time to apply those successfully.”
Gatrell said ‘a tearful farewell’ had been said to oversees player Kamran Mukhtar, who has returned to his native Pakistan due to work commitments.
A persistent knee injury has forced Stevie Nicol to step down as captain of the second XI and his place will be filled by Stuart Daniels. The 2nds travel to Stretton 2nds on Saturday.
In Division Three of the Cheshire Alliance, Capenhurst begin the 2013 campaign at Rostherne.
Players wishing to join Ellesmere Port CC can contact Chris Gatrell on 07703 406544.