James Quinn continues as captain after leading the side to the title in his first season in charge.
James Quinn continues as captain after leading the side to the title in his first season in charge.

Barnard Castle CC

NYSD League champions Barnard Castle begin their title defence on Saturday with a home match against promoted Billingham Synthonia.

If it is the sort of starting fixture Barney might have wanted they will take nothing for granted against a side who won Division One by 32 points last season.

Michael Stanwix, Barney’s cricket director, said: “We’ve got a strong team and can be optimistic about the summer ahead but the Premier Division is highly competitive and Synthonia will be eager to make a good impression at the start. The lads know they’ll have to be on their guard against a potent bowling attack.”

But Barney were unbeaten at home in the league last season and would be disappointed for that record to end so early in 2019. The team will be mostly familiar but there will be at least two new signings – the new English professional, James Wainman, who played for Yorkshire in limited overs matches last season, and ex-Cheshire wicketkeeper batsman Patrick Roberts.

Two overseas stars are returning, Hashan Dumindu, the Sri Lanka professional and Giles Creedon, who was the NYSD Premier Divison’s leading wicket taker in 2018. James Quinn will again lead the side after enjoying a magnificent first season as captain in which his leadership skills and batting form were both exemplary.

Mr Stanwix said: “What was particularly pleasing about last season was not just that we won the league title and the Macmillan Cup T20 competition but that we also finished first in the Fair Play League. That reflects superbly on the way our young captain led an equally young team and the example he set.”

With the barometer in optimistic mode, the team can expect a large gathering of spectators at Vere Road to watch them start their campaign. The ground is looking in tip-top condition and if the sun shines with any regularity there should be a feast of runs.

In Quinn and Creedon, Barney had the Premier Division’s leading batsman and bowler last season, not only respectively scorer of most runs and taker of most wickets but also both top of the averages. But they had wonderful support in a well-balanced XI and that should not change.