STAXTON’S Chris Dove is gunning for the Readers Scarborough Beckett League Premier League champions Heslerton this season.
Dove has relinquished his role of 1st XI skipper at Staxton, and has been replaced by Nick Gibson, but he is still aiming high for the season.
Staxton have strengthened their ranks with the addition of medium-fast bowler Rich Webster, and Dove fully expects the side to challenge at the top again this campaign.
Dove said: “We’re definitely aiming to push the sides at the top again this year, especially after the way it finished last season.
“Nick has taken over as captain this year and hopefully that will strengthen us.
“Rich has signed on for us as well and he practically cost us the title last year.
“He took six-for against us for Cayton and that cost us some big points.
“We’re hoping Ben Luntley will come good this season as well. He didn’t have the best of seasons last time around, and I’m sure he’ll want to do better this year.
“Linden Gray had a good season last night and showed a lot of promise.
“He’s been working with John Green and the development group and you can really see the benefits.
“He has looked really good in the nets, so hopefully he will carry that into the season.”
Dove is expecting a tough challenge at the summit of the Beckett League’s top flight though, with champions Heslerton also looking strong again this season.
Dove added: “You’d expect Heslerton to be up there again this season.
“They’ll be even stronger this season with Sam Triffitt coming back in to strengthen their batting line-up.
“Then there’ll be the likes of Ebberston and Staithes, who are always up near the top.
“I also think Seamer are going to surprise a few people this year as well.
“They’ve got a good side and I’ve heard they’re bringing an Aussie on board. So they’ll possibly challenge too.”
Relegated Kirkbymoorside are another side looking to improve this season.
They lost out in a thrilling relegation play-off against Forge Valley at the end of the 2011 campaign, but skipper Martin Charlton (pictured left) is confident that his side can find their best form, that they’ll bounce straight back to the top flight.
Charlton said: “We hope to bounce back at the first attempt. We recognise that there are a number of talented teams and players in division A, but feel if we can get our strongest 11 players out every week we should be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
“Our strongest team last year was good enough to beat Staxton in the last regular game of the season and give us a chance of staying up, but we couldn’t repeat that performance against Forge Valley in the relegation play-off match.
“The team should be similar to that of last season, we have one or two potential transfer targets who we hope will join up with us.
“A key man for us is Dave Gardner, who is a big-hitter and could score big runs.”