IT will be a familiar Hartlepool XI who take to the field for this year’s NYSD Premier League campaign with recruitment coming from within.
Pool, mid-table last season, were “speaking to a couple of lads over the winter” but with clubs not allowed to pay more than two players, they struggled to bring in talent without the promise of a wage.
Adil Arif have moved to Cambridge MCCU and the void left by the bowler can be fulfilled by more consistent performances from the team’s current squad.
Captain Marc Symington said: “A lot of the lads will step up and produce the goods week in, week out.
“It’s a big chance for the likes of Jonathan Rickard and Jack Wilkinson.
“Callum Prosser has spent the winter in Australia so that should benefit him.
“The seconds got promoted last season and the gap between the two teams is narrower.
“We are building a team from inside and thirds captain, Ollie Mole, will be in the shake-up.
“Competition for places is as strong as it has ever been.”
Pool harboured top three hopes in 2013 but the curse of losing the toss struck them repeatedly to leave them up against it most Saturdays to maximise point totals.
This season, though, a win batting first will earn a side 25 points – up from 20 – which can be beneficial to the Park Drive outfit.
Syminton commented: “We lost 15 tosses last year and that meant you had to bowl first to benefit.
“But the rule change means that it is an incentive to bat first and because we have a well-balanced side that can help us enormously.”
But he tempered championship optimism: “It was a realistic target last year and we have a lot of talent still but top half is our aim first and foremost.”
Former Durham man Symington will instruct his side to atone for their typical slow starts to the season against visitors Barnard Castle tomorrow (1pm start).
“We have a good track record against Barney so we confident,” he added.
“The wicket is in good condition too and that won’t play into their spinner’s hands which is an advantage for us.
“We’ve started poorly in previous years so we want to make amends and with Redcar after Barney hopefully we can put any slow start we might have to bed.”