MALVERN Cricket Club get their Worcestershire League season under way on Saturday hoping to continue the strong form they showed towards the end of the last campaign.
After a poor first half to 2016 the Malvern first XI put a string of good Division Three results together, winning three and drawing four of their last seven matches in a rain-affected finale.
Despite a penalty points deduction placing the side just in the relegation zone a reorganisation of the league structure means Malvern will continue to play in Division Three for 2017.
Captain Anthony Arnold is optimistic, taking many positives from the late performances last year and a strong turnout including several new players in the pre-season nets.
He said: “We have a number of players who found form late last year to put together a satisfying run and a number of younger players who are coming through to the first team showing real promise.
"We have also managed to recruit some new players so I am hoping we can make a strong start this year.”
The season opener is at home to Himbleton at Malvern's Regency Road ground (1pm).
Malvern's second XI were also given a reprieve from relegation due to the league restructuring and will hope they too have a better year in Division Four in 2017.
Outgoing captain Tom Fairclough is likely to play mainly first XI cricket this year.
He said: “I feel we played much better than our results and league position showed.
"On a number of occasions we were in very strong positions to win matches only for them to be abandoned as draws when heavy rain arrived.
"On one occasion a solitary over cost us a winning draw and we lost points on other occasions due to weather.
"But we must play better as the results overall do reflect our performances across the season.”
Mirroring the first XI’s opening fixture the seconds' first match is at Himbleton (1pm).
New players are welcome and can get in touch with Arnold at the club via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first day of the first XI season on Saturday also sees Colwall visit Stourport in Division One and Eastnor go to Redditch.
Bromyard head to Oldswinford and Stourbridge Social in Division Two.
In Division Four West Malvern are away at Alveley and Hanley Castle and Upton visit Tenbury.