The Ribblesdale League season starts with a bang tomorrow as Earby travel to Barnoldswick for the derby.
The sides exchanged places last season in the new league format, with the Applegarth side finishing runners-up in Senior League B, while Barlick propped up A Division.
That means tomorrow’s game is the only scheduled meeting between the sides, barring any cup ties, and new Earby skipper Matt Haines is praying for good weather: “We didn’t really want to start at Barnoldswick, as the first match is often called off, so hopefully the weather holds up, and we can get off to a good start – which would be all the better if we beat Barlick!
“It’s not an easy game, they will expect to go back up, but if we play like we did last year, we will do well.
“We would be happy with a mid-table finish – staying up is the priority, although a cup run would be nice.”
Earby have lost Andrew Jaggers and Matt Wilson, but promising young opening bowler Jake Hargreaves wil be a regular first teamer this year.
Former Nelson man David Crotty returns to the Applegarth for a second season as professional.
Barnoldswick, meanwhile, are out to bounce back after a season which never really got going last year.
The Victory Park side finished bottom of the A Division, and are hoping for an impact from South African professional Kyle Marshall.
Secretary Mike Scothern said: “Kyle’s a quick bowler who gives it a whack with the bat, and he’s had a good season in South Africa, so hopefully he can do a job for us.
“We suffered last season with lack of availability of key players – it was probably the reason we went down – but we hope to bounce straight back.”
Barlick have added David Scothern and son Luke to their ranks, returning from Thornton.