Division Two champions Eaton Socon relishing the challenge of establishing themselves in the Tucker Gardner League top flight while new skipper hopes Waresley can climb the standings

Jonny Carpenter hit a century to help Eaton Socon to a fine victory against Wisbech in Tucker Gardne

Jonny Carpenter hit a century to help Eaton Socon to a fine victory against Wisbech in Tucker Gardner League Division One. - Credit: Archant

New captain Jonny Carpenter is confident Eaton Socon can avoid being dragged into a fight for survival in their first-ever season in Tucker Gardner League Division One.

Mark Roberts (batting) is the new captain of Kimbolton.

Mark Roberts (batting) is the new captain of Kimbolton. - Credit: Archant

Socon swept to the Division Two title in stunning style last summer to earn their rise into the top-flight with Carpenter succeeding club legend, and now president, Terry Day as skipper.

He will also benefit from the knowledge of the man who guided Godmanchester to glory last season. Matt Pateman has returned to his cricketing roots for 2016 and he will be relied on for plenty of runs with Socon having to replace the 1,721 scored by South African ace Mickey Hay last summer.

They have returned to the same country to snap up their new overseas player as well. Matthew Kirkham is a seam bowler who will bat in the middle order.

Carpenter said: “Everyone is up for the challenge of playing in Division One.

“We’ve been doing fitness work as a squad since early January and we’re looking forward to getting the season going.

“I’d like to think we will be fine in terms of being able to consolidate at the new level. That’s certainly the aim anyway after winning promotion last summer.

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“The changes of structure in the league will make it very different for all teams, but I feel we’ve got plenty of batting and we’ve worked hard on the bowling side of things.”

Wicket-keeper David Humphrey has departed for Haverhill, where he now lives, but Socon have a capable replacement in-house in the form of Matthew Taylor.

There’s also a new skipper at Waresley where Tom Griffiths hopes more consistent selection will serve them well.

Griffiths succeeds Simon Donald, who has gone to Burwell in the East Anglian Premier League, as skipper of the village outfit.

Waresley have swapped one overseas bowler for another with Aussie quickie Alex Watkiss assuming the mantle from Kiwi Zac Ringrose.

Wicket-keeping batsman Alex Scully has arrived from Burwell while opener Nick Taylor, a player who features in the Oxford Blues squad, joins from Cambridge NCI.

But Rob Craze won’t be around as he is staying in the West Country, where he is at university in Exeter, for the summer.

Griffiths said: “Last summer was distinctly average for us considering the team we had.

“We all felt we could have done better and we’ll be aiming for mid-table, if not higher, this year. “Hopefully having a stronger and more settled team will help.”