Returning captains have high hopes for the last two sets of champions in the new Tucker Gardner League Division One season

New Ramsey captain Michael Cafferkey. Picture: HELEN DRAKE

New Ramsey captain Michael Cafferkey. Picture: HELEN DRAKE - Credit: Archant

It might be a bold new era of Tucker Gardner League cricket, but it is a fair bet the usual suspects will be battling for Division One glory.

New Godmanchester captain Paul Swannell batting. Picture: HELEN DRAKE

New Godmanchester captain Paul Swannell batting. Picture: HELEN DRAKE - Credit: Archant

The top local competition has undergone a major revamp ahead of the 2016 season with a new format and new rules.

Gone are the days of sides blocking out for bore draws and the best bowlers hogging the ball. It is now win/loss cricket with no more than 10 overs per man.

It should make for far more excitement and considerably fewer wasted Saturday afternoons for the area’s leading cricketers.

There are also new captains in place at the last two sets of top-flight title-winners – 2015 kings Godmanchester and 2014 victors Ramsey - and both are hopeful their charges can again take high rank in the standings.

Paul Swannell has returned to the Godmanchester helm to succeed the departed Matt Pateman.

The reigning champions have a new overseas player in the shape of South African spinning all-rounder Jarryd Phillips, but they were dealt a blow on the eve of the new campaign when another recruit of South African origin – Russell Withey – was ruled out for several weeks by a dislocated shoulder.

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Swannell, who skippered the club in the East Anglian Premier League in the past, said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge in what looks to be a very competitive league.

“We’ve got a decent side ourselves and I hope we’ll be up there again in the top two or three.

“The idea is certainly to start well and try to build some momentum as we did from the middle towards the end of last season.

“I back our side to perform well against anyone if we can get a consistent selection.”

Cafferkey is equally optimistic about the prospects of a Ramsey side who have headed Down Under for their overseas recruits again.

All-rounder Blake Mills and wicket-keeper/batsman Sam Kingston, who holds a British passport, should add plenty of quality to a strong corps of local lads.

Two other bowlerss, left-arm seamer Sam Latchford of Warboys and off-spinner Kasim Iqhlaq from Nassington, have also joined.

Cafferkey admitted: “We weren’t quite good enough last season. Everyone seems to go a bit harder against you when you’re the champions and that’s something we found.

“We’ve added to the side ahead of this season and it was nice that Sam and Kasim both approached us. We didn’t have to go out and chase players.

“I’ll be disappointed if we’re not in the top three, but it is bound to be as tough as ever.

“Saffron Walden will be strong following relegation while teams like Godmanchester and Wisbech are almost certain to be around the top of the league.”

The wet weather scuppered any hopes of an explosive start to the season last weekend. A scheduled clash between Godmanchester and Ramsey in the Smith Barry Senior Cup final was cancelled. It will be rearranged for later in the season.