THE cricket season begins tomorrow for many Malvern Hills sides with Barnards Green leading the way.
Green were fourth in Birmingham and District Premier League Division One last season in a record finish for a local club.
But, after three consecutive promotions, the Malvern side are seeking to consolidate rather than aiming for the top at this stage.
Club chairman Andy Lamb said: “Several teams in this division have invested heavily in signing new players.
“But, as a local community club, we do not possess the financial resources to bring in established players so will therefore again be relying on developed local talent and improving youngsters.
“We are confident this is the only way we can continue to compete in the second-highest tier of amateur cricket in the country.”
They open tomorrow (noon) with a long trip to title contenders Oswestry.
Green have re-signed Worcestershire’s Alex Hepburn, 18, and all-rounder George Rhodes has returned from Bromsgrove.
County paceman Graeme Cessford has left for Shifnal but Green are adding a young New Zealand bowler whose visa application is going through.
University of Worcester student Jamie Tapper will be with Green in the early season before Andrew Curtis joins after completing his studies in Exeter.
The experienced Mark Hardinges’ games will be limited due to Malvern College duties. Liam Smith, Alex Milton, Ash Brewer and Jon Dovey hope to keep shining.
Jack McIntosh and England women’s under 19s star Georgia Hennessey aim to secure first-team places.
Lewis Hooper is the new Green seconds captain and Jez Clarke leads the thirds in Worcestershire League Division Five.
Meanwhile, in Birmingham League Division Two, Eastnor visit Tamworth tomorrow.
There is plenty of Worcestershire League Division One interest with relegated Worcester Nomads hosting Harvington, promoted Colwall visiting Worcester and Bromyard going to Belbroughton (all 1pm). Promoted Malvern host Lye in Division Two.
Last season’s runners-up Bromyard have signed first-class Pakistan fast bowler Ahmed Jamal, 25.
Ahmed has played 43 first-class matches in Pakistan, taking 158 wickets at an average of 26.35.
He figures for National Bank and Abbottabad Falcons and will assist with Bromyard’s junior coaching.