Newly-promoted Portsmouth have a new man at the helm as they start their Southern League division one campaign against Totton & Eling at Clarence Parade tomorrow.
Rich Locke has taken over the captaincy from Dave Henderson as Portsmouth look to consolidate their place at the higher level.
The new skipper has a largely young squad at his disposal but is optimistic they can cope with the new demands.
He is also encouraged by the arrival of Fraser Hay a 19-year-old hard-hitting all-rounder from the Melville club in Perth Australia.
‘I have some big boots to fill taking over from Dave Henderson who led the club to two promotions,’ said Locke.
‘It is another step up for us as a team after winning promotion on the final day of last season.
‘We still have the nucleus of last season’s squad plus a couple of additions.
‘The club is still in a rebuilding phase but our investment into youth cricket over the last few years is starting to pay off.
‘A lot of our players are now in the 19-20 year age bracket and have come through the ranks together.
‘They are a tight-knit group and that should stand them in good stead.
‘In addition, Fraser Hay looks like being a good acquisition for us.
‘There is no doubt that this season is going to be a challenge because the league looks stronger than it has been for a number of years.
‘I don’t see any reason though why we cannot hold our own in it.’
Aussie Hay, who also holds a UK passport, can be expected to play a large part in Portsmouth’s fortunes.
As a top-order batsman and a more than useful seam bowler he has the potential to make a big impact, with the English conditions set to suit his game.
He is highly thought of by his home club who regard him as a good timer of the ball with the bat.
Hay will make his league debut against Totton & Eling alongside fellow debutant, Portsmouth University student Inderpal Nandra.
Nandra played for Solihull in the Birmingham League last season and is another all-rounder.
Portsmouth will also welcome Jack and Andy Marston who will travel back from university to play in the early part of the season.
With the emphasis on youth, Portsmouth can be expected to produce a brand of exciting cricket.
‘Having a number of youngsters in the team tends to lead to some dynamic cricket,’ said Locke.
‘They have been brought up on the modern game and approach it slightly differently to players in the past.
‘The great thing is that they are always open to new ideas and able to adapt to different conditions and situations.’
Portsmouth: Rich Locke, Will Smitherman, Inderpal Nandra, Fraser Hay, Harry Collier, Matt Shaw, Vikram Dawson, Alex Hammond, Andy Marston, Jed Whitecross, Ishi Ahmad
Newly-promoted Sarisbury Athletic begin life in division one with a trip to Basingstoke & North Hants.