Dave Tiller admits he has an almost impossible task of replacing run-machine Ash Wallace as Portsmouth & Southsea attempt to bridge the gap between Hampshire League cricket and the Southern Electric Premier League.
The South African smashed more than 900 runs last season as Tiller’s side cruised to the Hampshire League crown with just one defeat all season.
But attempts to bring him back this year were dashed when Wallace wanted an extra incentive to make the trip.
Tiller explained: ‘Ash Wallace was a pretty special player and was playing well below his level.
‘We had a really good season in winning the league but we had a South African who scored 900 runs, which helps.
‘We don’t have him this season.
‘We tried to bring him back but we don’t pay players at our club and maybe he expected a little bit too much.’
Aidan Green is the club’s overseas recruit – a leg-spinner from Australia – and that will affect the balance of the side.
But Tiller knows this season is all about consolidation for his side as they start their division three campaign with a trip to May’s Bounty and an encounter with league new-boys Basingstoke & North Hants II.
Tiller said: ‘When you get promoted, staying up the next season is the key.
‘But it’s tough to say how big the step up is these days.
‘We will be up against a lot of the second teams, so it’s hard to judge.
‘One week you could come up against a team full of players pushing to get into their first team and the next week you could be up against a weaker side if the first team has a few injuries.
‘We know it will be tough and we are not expecting it to be anything like last year where we won every game but one.
‘But we will give it our best and hope to get off to a good start.
‘There’s no greater motivation for our players than starting the season at May’s Bounty, where Hampshire have played in recent years.’