THE new captain of The Groves is confident his side can continue where they left off and make an impact on the Meller Braggins League this summer.
After losing their first eight games of the 2011 campaign, the Chester Road outfit were odds-on to make an instant return to the Cheshire Alliance.
But a spectacular run of form ensured they secured their Division Three survival with three games to play.
Now Martin Flanagan, who has taken over the skipper’s armband from Mike Garvey, wants The Groves to hit the ground running once they get the 2012 season under way at home to relegated Barrow on Saturday.
The long-serving Flanagan said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge this year and have a good feeling about the atmosphere pre-season.
“We’ve had a good, solid turnout at indoor nets and also at the outdoor sessions we’ve been having and I think it’s imperative to get off to a better start than last year.
“We understand what playing in this league is about and we’re up against good sides, with lots of depth to their batting, and on good pitches so our bowling needs to be up to scratch.
“Too many times last year we put a good score on the board only to bowl averagely and lose games.”
The Groves have added to their ranks over the winter but the make up of their first-team squad remains largely the same.
Stalwarts Mark Evans, Darren Green, Tony King and Mike Caulfield will continue to play key roles while the bowling attack will be led by Damian Walters, Vipal Jindal and outgoing captain Garvey, who has stood aside after four years in the role.
After recovering from injury, Byron Ward enjoyed a late-season run glut last time out and he will be hoping to accumulate some big scores.
The Groves 2nds get their campaign up and running away to Barrow 2nds on Saturday.
Skipper Jon Ball said: “We’ve got a good squad developing and maybe it’s the year that some of the younger players are going to step up and put their hands up for selection for the first team.
“Looking at it, we’re in a pretty healthy position selection wise and that can only be a good thing for the club.”