Bishop’s Waltham captain Dan Wheeler is adamant his team are ready for their first-ever season in Hampshire League division one cricket.
They make their county division one debut against Alton II at Albany Road tomorrow determined to build on their success of the last couple of seasons.
Alton were relegated from the Southern League last season so are expected to provide a stern opening test.
Wheeler, however, is confident his side can consolidate their position in the higher league.
He said: ‘Stepping up will be a big challenge for everybody in the team but the feeling in the camp is that we are up for it.
‘We know that it will be more difficult but we are ready to take it on.
‘Last season we scored over 300 runs on four or five occasions and dominated games.
‘We know it won’t be so easy to do that this time around.
‘Now we find ourselves in 50-over matches instead of 45 and also have to contend with fielding restrictions.
‘Making the adjustments tactically will be a massive challenge and it is a step up for all of us.
‘I have every confidence that we will be able to adapt and maintaining consistency will be the key.
‘Our aim must be to consolidate our position at this level and we are looking for at least a mid-table finish.’
Once again, Bishops Waltham are using their links with Hong Kong cricket to boost their squad with an overseas recruit.
Top-order batsman and leg-spin bowler Sony Bhimsaria is expected to arrive in the country in time for Waltham’s third game of the season.
Bhimsaria is currently with the Hong Kong under 19’s squad trying to break through into the seniors.
Wheeler expects the new recruit to make last season’s top-order batting even stronger, joining prolific run-scoring opening pair Phil Baldock and Harry McGhee.
‘There is good continuity from last year when we earned promotion through a good consistent team effort,’ said Wheeler.
‘We know that stepping up we will need someone each week to produce a match-winning performance either with the bat or ball.’
Wheeler believes the best is still to come from a couple of his players.
He hopes to have vice-captain and wicketkeeper Gareth Lovell available for most of the season and that regular cricket will see him return to his previous best.
Andy Wakeley didn’t have the greatest time with the ball last season after topping the county division three bowling averages the previous year.
Wakeley is keen to bounce back and prove a point and add to an attack that saw Wheeler take 31 wickets last season.
Twenty-one-year-old Sam Medhurst, meanwhile, will have benefitted from playing cricket in New Zealand during the winter.
Robbie Pitts-Mellan has also returned to the club after spending a couple of seasons in the Southern League with Alton.
Bishop’s Waltham: Mark Boriani, Andy Wakeley, Dom Quincy, Gareth Lovett, Harry Barrett, Sam Medhurst, James Redding, James Mitchell, Phil Dalton, Richard Dadd, Dan Wheeler, Robbie Pitt-Mellan