NEW Year signals 16 weeks from the start of the new cricket season.

Players at the five local clubs preparing to compete in the 2019 Liverpool Gin Liverpool Competition are no exception, with many all set to undergo indoor net practice early in the New Year.

Rainhill are gearing up for their fifth consecutive season in the ECB Premier League’s Premier Division after finishing sixth last year, earning them a place in the Lancashire Knock Out cup where they will travel to Eccleston in the first round.

They have secured the services, when available, of Northamptonshire’s Luke Proctor as well as signing batsman Sean Vandome (Sefton Park) and slow bowler Peter Kelly (Liverpool). The Victoria Terrace outfit have also recruited 24-year-old Qaiser Ashraf, currently playing first class cricket in Lahore, as their new professional.

Division 1 in the Liverpool Competition sees two of our clubs, Rainford and Newton le Willows go head to head in 2019, following Rainford’s relegation from the Premier Division last year. David Snellgrove is once again at the helm at the Jubilee Recreation ground and the club have signed quick bowling all-rounder Josh Peake from New Zealand as their overseas player.

Newton have a new captain in Marc de Brabander and have brought in two acquisitions from Grappenhall CC, batsman Pete Barnes and bowler Sam Guest.

Both have a number of promising youngsters on the way up, notably Finlo Smith (Rainford) now a member of the Lancashire Academy and Ben Walkden and Matthew Hurst (Newton) both on the County’s Emerging Player Programme.

Sutton and St Helens Town complete the picture of the Borough’s Liverpool Competition clubs, both competing in Divison 2. Sutton finished fourth last year after being in contention all season and will be looking for promotion this year.

At St Helens Town, the Ruskin Drive outfit will have Craig Woods in charge of the ones and Dave Gregson marshalling the twos.