Amidst the festive excitement and despite the wintry weather, cricketers from all parts of St Helens have started to think about the season ahead with the recent publication of next season’s fixtures. Newton le Willows, Rainhill and Rainford will all be competing in Division 1 of the Bridging Finance Solutions Liverpool and District Cricket Competition, with St Helens Town and Sutton battling it out in Division 2.

There’s a new skipper at Newton Le Willows following the departure of Mark Wilkie with the club due to make an announcement early in the New Year. Last year’s leading run scorer Chris Chambers will take over the gloves and the club are hoping for another big year from the young LCB Cricket Development Coach. Newton’s campaign is likely to be spearheaded by the Walkden brothers, Ian and Mike, together with the highly regarded Danny Barlow. Amongst the promising youngsters in the club Liam Jenkins and Dominic Chambers are two to look out for.

Mike Rotheram continues the captaincy at Rainhill where Mohammad Qureshi returns for a third year. The Pakistani spin bowler will be looking for a repeat of 2012 when he took 75 wickets. Rotheram also reports that Joe Harvey is set to return to the Victoria Terrace Ground. Amongst the younger players expected to do well this season are pace bowlers Alex Storey and Liam O’Toole both of whom are wintering on the L&DCC’s Player Development Programme..

A new captain is also required at the Jubilee Recreation Ground in Rainford with Mark Williams living in Sheffield and joining Hallam CC in the South Yorkshire Premier League. The AGM in early February will produce the skipper. Back in Division 1 after two years in the Premier Division, Rainford have re-engaged Mumbai all rounder Pravin Tambe returning after a one year absence for a sixth year. The club is looking to youngsters Matt Bailey, Will Threlkeld, Joe Noctor and John Dotters to build on their experiences in the top flight as they look to bounce back in this year’s campaign, with Stephen Cline and Will Tabern as the ones to watch. St Helens Town skipper Matty Fisher, now in his second year at the helm, is looking for a year of improvement and consolidation at Ruskin Drive. Rob Kenny continues as vice captain and young Fisher has, once again, the experienced trio of Gary Freeman, Stu Lyon and Steve Garvey in his side. Michael Stark, now in his second senior season, and Liam Gaskell are two of the young Town players expected to make a mark this season.

There will also be a new man in charge at Sutton but once again an announcement is due in 2013. The New Street outfit will have reliable run scorer Mike Rimmer at the top of the order with the bowling attack likely to be led by Ray Foster and Liam Dodd. The evergreen Foster was the club’s leading wicket taker last year and was well supported by the improving young Dodd. Lewis Bolton and Tom Nolan are just two of the junior players held in high regard.