THE Lancashire League season starts on Sunday, but Nelson have been hit by the professional contract jinx.
Burton de Wett was ready to leave his home in South Africa to return to Seedhill when he was informed that his visa application had been refused.
Chairman Milton Lord admits the club had no alternative but to cancel his contract.
No permanent replacement had been found at the time of going to press, but the club has been fortunate in being able to appoint Glen Batticciotto to stand-in this Sunday in the home fixture with Todmorden. Batticciotto has been sub-pro for Nelson on three occasions in 2009, and hit three centuries, as well as taking a total of seven wickets for 95 runs.
However, he already has a contract with Nantwich, so he is not available on a permanent basis.
Nelson are in talks with three international cricketers but nothing has been finalised yet.
There is more bad news for Nelson with the confirmation that new signing Peter Dibb, who captained Clitheroe to the Ribblesdale League title last season, broke his finger in the victory over Littleborough in last Sunday’s friendly victory, and he will be out of action for a few weeks.
But new skipper Thomas Lord feels the side can overcome those hurdles and challenge for silverware.
Lord is in good nick as the season starts, having scored 117 on the second day of Nelson’s friendlies at Harborne in Birmingham earlier this month.
The hosts fielded strong sides in both games, with the locals convincingly beaten on the first day - Lord trapped lbw for a duck by Brett D’Oliveira of Warwickshire seconds, grandson of Basil!
Day two saw Nelson put up a more competent display, with Lord cracking a ton, while David Crotty made 65.
Toqir Hussain also impressed with bat and ball.
And on Sunday, Lord hit 40, while Stuart Lemon top-scored with 51 in a 64-run win at home to Littleborough, with Sam Halstead taking three wickets.
Lord is exciting about the prospects for the season: “I’d like to think we can challenge for the title, but we’re looking to win a cup and we’ll be disappointed if we don’t.
“We’re another year older as a team - we’re not juniors any more, we’re all seniors and I feel if we can get a good replacement in for Burton, we’ll have a good chance.
“We’re definitely in a position where we should be winning something.”
Khurrum Nazir, who left the club to play at Barnoldswick last year, has returned to the club, while Dibb, who would have opened the batting, is expected to be out for up to three weeks.
Todmorden are first up for Nelson, and Lord added: “We were beaten by their pro last year, so we’ll see what happens. Glen would be one of the best pros in the league, and we hope to be strong, especially on our own turf.”