Steyning and Portslade cricket clubs are both looking to improve on last season in the upcoming Sussex League Division 3 season.
Portslade finished third last year and Steyning came sixth. Both are eyeing top-half finishes this campaign, with a possible league restructure coming in at the end of the season.
The league season gets under way on May 7 but both clubs are in Sussex League T20 Cup action on Saturday. Portslade entertain Goring in the second round, while Steyning will meet the winners of Slinfold and Southwater after receiving a bye through the first round.
Steyning have a similar side to last year but have added Indian all-rounder Kuldeep Rawat, who has previously played in the Sussex Premier League for Roffey, as their overseas player. Rawat scored 425 runs and took 42 wickets for Roffey in the 2014 season.
Steyning captain David Kennett said: “Our main aim is to improve on last season’s position. With a possible league re-structure, the first thing will be to finish in the top half and then, by the end of August, hopefully be competing at the top of the table.
“With the mix of some of our young talent, who will hopefully step up from the 2nd XI this year and some older heads, I see no reason why we can’t be in the top three.”
Portslade finished third last season – after back-to-back promotions – just 24 points from promotion.
With Findon and Crowhurst Park coming down from Division 2 and Crawley and Mayfield coming up from Division 4, Portslade skipper Paul Glover is expecting an even tougher league this term.
He said: “I think the four teams that are new to this division will make it even tougher for us.
“Our first target is to try to finish in the top half, then see where we go from there. Last season went really well and to finish up in third was a great achievement. I think a few teams will have taken us lightly, though, and we’re expecting an even tougher campaign this time around.”
One disappointment from last season was Portslade’s batting and Glover wants to see an improvement on that this year.
Over the winter, Australian Joel Crook has signed to boost the batting ranks after two years at West Sussex Invitation League Division 1 side Arundel, while Alex Smith also returns after missing last season travelling.
Glover said: “I know Joel well and I’m delighted he has signed. He will add stability to the top order and it’s great to have Alex back as well.
“This is a big season for some of the more senior players in the side. I think last year we didn’t have enough people contributing and this year we need more from them.”
After relegation last year, Southwick will play in West Sussex Invitation League Division 4 this season.
Russell Martin is Wickers’ captain and they begin their campaign at home to RMU on Saturday.
Chris Salt is Lancing Manor’s new captain. They begin their Division 5 campaign at Three Bridges 4th on Saturday.