STAFFORDSHIRE opening bowler Richard Cooper will team up with Adrian Butler to form Betley's new ball partnership this summer.

A disappointing season last time around saw Betley survive relegation from the Premier Division due to homeless Sneyd being expelled at the league's AGM.

Although former pro Rizwan Malik was prolific with the bat during his three-season spell at Marl Pit, the club decided they needed to focus more on taking wickets.

Secretary John Machin explained: 'We struggled to bowl sides out last season and that led to us having a disappointing time. We had finished third in each of the previous two seasons and had hoped to do well again, but we are hoping we will again be a force.'

Cooper, 31, rejoins Betley after three successful seasons at Leek, including the treble in 2001.

He took 33 wickets at 21.69 for Leek last season and weighed in as third highest wicket-taker for Staffs with 17 wickets at 28.06.

Machin added: 'We are hoping Richard will provide a change of fortunes and we have also brought in a promising youngster in Ashley Guest from Wood Lane. He is a left-arm seamer who can also bat and should add to our options.

'Of course, we are looking to our old stagers such as Simon Cork, Simon Bailey and Adrian Butler to make their usual strong contributions, and we still hope to bring in another player or two.'

Adrian Fisher has joined Porthill Park and Malik is hoping to be engaged as professional elsewhere in the country.