Richard Grant's Ynysygerwn CC will start their season on Saturday afternoon with a tough game away in the capital at Cardiff CC. Cardiff will again be one of the early season favourites as they look to regain the South Wales Premier Cricket League title, that their Gwent rivals Newport CC won last season.
Grant continues as skipper for the fifth season but this year has a new more experienced backroom to help him out. Former Glamorgan CCC, Essex CCC and England A international Darren Thomas has joined the ranks as the clubs new Head Coach while former Glamorgan CCC and Gloucestershire CCC player Mark Davies has accepted a role as Team Manager.
Grant said " There's been a few changes around the club during the off season, with a few comings and goings but we look a stronger all round squad this season."
Ynysygerwn completed their pre season action last week with friendlies away at Abergavenny CC and Barry Athletic CC. Ynys were down by 7 wickets on Saturday at Abergavenny while they bounced back on Sunday with a 50 run win at Barry. Alex McCormack, Aaron Ace and Chris Curtis all completed half centuries on Sunday while Scott Thornton got 41 on Saturday. Bowlers Ryan Sylvester, Adam Sylvester, Gavin John And Nish Delevaye all bowled a number of overs so all in all it was a good work out for the players over the two days.
Grant continued " We've had a good pre season with competitive friendlies and the boys have worked hard on their game in the off season."
Thornton made his debut on Saturday while Darren Thomas is expected to make his first start for the club on Saturday, although Alex Griffiths , another new signing from Bridgend in injured. Grant is extremely please with the signings made during the close season "With the new players we have brought in, we have a good blend of experience and youth, plus we will have more competition for places so the players know they can't rest on their laurels."
New head coach Mark Davies is also in a positive mood ahead of the upcoming season "(We are)Looking forward to the season after all the hard work over the winter and pre season games. I'm excited at the prospect of working with Richard and Darren in developing our new cricket structure and I hope that the players will respond to the new challenges ahead over the season and that we get the players, coaches, supporters and the local community behind the club for the 2017 season."
After a poor league campaign last season Ynysygerwn will be looking for a more positive start. Grant added "We are hoping to put a few things right from last season. As everyone knows it was a disappointing one. In my opinion I think our squad is stronger this season, but as the boys know they will need to step up and start winning games early in the season.
As well as the first team's fixture the second XI start their season off with a home game against Carmarthen Wanderers CC at the club. The Second XI will be skippered by Adam Davies, who last season was wicketkeeper for the 1st XI.
Everyone at the club would like to wish both captains, Richard and Adam, as well as all the coaches, players and staff all the best for our 170th season of playing cricket at Ynysygerwn.