New Harrogate CC skipper Josh Atkinson says he expects his side to be challenging at the right end of the table again in 2019.
The Roosters, ECB Yorkshire Premier League North champions as recently as 2016, struggled last term and were embroiled in a battle to beat the drop until the penultimate weekend of the campaign.
And although a decent run of form towards the end of the season meant they finished up in seventh place, the new man in charge at St George’s Road is setting his heights much higher this time around.
“I’m not saying that we’re going to win the league, but I expect us to be challenging the likes of York, Stamford Bridge and Woodhouse Grange,” Atkinson said.
“This is a tough division and there are no easy games, however I’m confident that we can compete with the best teams.
“We have a good mix of youth and experience and we’ve brought in an overseas player whose stats sound very promising, so there’s plenty to be positive about.”
Atkinson takes over the captaincy from the talismanic George Ross, a man who has shone consistently with both bat and ball in recent years and also led ‘Gate to the league title in 2016.
It has been some time since Atkinson last skippered a side, though he says he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“Rossy has taken a year off from cricket as he’s getting married this summer,” Atkinson added.
“Obviously he will be a big miss,but I’m really looking forward to the challenge of captaining in this team.
“It’s something I’ve done before, although not since junior cricket, however I think I’ll be able to take it in my stride.”
Ross is not the only member of last season’s squad who will not feature this term.
Wicket-keeper Eddie Wilson and batsman Will Bates have departed the club, while explosive opening bat Jack Potticary is another player to have moved on.
Sri Lankan all-rounder Ishan Abeysekara has signed for the Roosters, however, while Ross Sedgley and Ben Stokes join from Aire-Wharfe League outfit Beckwithshaw.
‘Gate’s first league fixture of 2019 will see them entertain Yorkshire Academy on April 27.