Hartlepool begin their NYSD Premier League campaign hosting old foes Darlington at Park Drive tomorrow.
Much will be reliant on the weather, which has done the groundstaff no favours in preparing a decent playing surface for the first game of the season.
Dave Measor, returning to the club having been head groundsman at Durham’s Riverside ground, will use his wealth of experience to try and get the game on and produce a good competitive surface.
Pool make a number of changes to their personnel from last year, with retirements, sabatticals, work commitments and visa issues all playing their part.
Chris Harrison takes over the captain’s armband, replacing Mike Yuill who is taking some time out of the game.
Harrison whom has entered the twilight years of his career certainly has a wealth of experience at the top level in the NYSD having represented a number of clubs over the years.
In recent years, he has proved his worth, more so with the ball than the bat, as his variety of deliveries bamboozle the batsmen.
Shani Dissanayke is set to return for his second season at the club, although Visa issues in Sri Lanka have delayed his arrival.
The seasoned Lion has played more than 10 years in this league, but it appears he has hit a problem when attempting to enter the country on this occasion.
Jon Rickard remains at the club, but he has reverted to amateur status as work commitments will not allow him to commit to every weekend or cup game.
Many teams tried to lure Rickard away but he has opted to stay with the team he has performed well for over the past two years.
His fast, free scoring approach is able to take the game away from any opposition.
Lewis Stabler, last seasons player of the year, returns to the club following a very successful winter in Australia.
He is rewarded for his outstanding season with both bat and ball last term, by being promoted to club professional.
His enthusiasm and skills will certainly be pivotal to Pool’s success.
Neil Coverdale and John Watson who formed a formidable opening partnership last year remain at the club and provide a solid top order for the West Park side to build from.
Rickard will, occupy the number three spot, with Dissanayake when he arrives completing the top 4. James Piper and Alan Tebbett are able to provide some explosive scoring power, alongside Skipper Harrison and the destructive Stabler which looks to make solid top 8.
Joining the clubs ranks are Dale Metcalfe who joins from Redcar, and Australian, overseas amateur Jonathan Carson.
Both players will be welcomed to the club by the Park Drive faithful, as they aim to spin Pool to success.
Metcalfe has represented a number of clubs in the NYSD and is very passionate his and his teams performance.
Carson comes to the UK to ply his trade, just as Stabler has over in Australia over the winter.
Callum Prosser and Stabler will provide the new ball bowling options, whilst the skipper with have a wealth of variation at his disposal.
The leg spin of Metcalfe, the off spin of Carson, the left arm spin of Dissanayke, the medium pace of Watson and not to forget the variety of his own bowling. Needless to say, he will not be short of options.
Pool appear to have a strong side with very capable batsmen coupled with a varied and potent bowling attack.
As always, the biggest challenge for Pool will be keeping the side available all of the time, whilst still ensuring everybody plays an active part in the game.
Pool will also need to act quickly to find another professional if the appeal of Dissanayke Visa is unsuccessful, however the Sri Lankan is confident of a successful outcome.
Should the weather improve, Pool’s opponents will be Darlington whom have had to ring the changes following the loss of a number of players.
The three pronged bowling attack of Barnes, Armstrong and Mulholland have all left over the last couple of seasons, whilst a number of local talents have been tempted away to other clubs.
The Quakers always provide Pool with a competitive game, and should the atrocious weather rescind, Saturday should be no different.