BRADNINCH return to the Premier Division for the first time since 2013 with a fresh approach to the game.
Premier status is highly prized in Devon and clubs go to tremendous lengths to gain and retain it.
Bradninch went down that route before after arriving in the top flight last time in 2008 and don’t intend doing it again.
Gary Chappell, the Bradninch skipper whose return from Exmouth in 2016 was the catalyst for winning promotion, is comfortable with the new approach.
Bradninch have an overseas player with good stats at home in Brisbane – his name is Matt Foster who bowls quick and bats too – but otherwise recruitment has been muted.
Chappell is happy to give young players a chance in the team this year, including a couple who have stepped up from lower-division cricket.
“We are trying to do things the right way this time,” said Chappell, last summer’s Devon League player of the year.
“In previous years we have gone to extreme lengths to stay in the Premier, even having four overseas players at one stage.
“Now we have realised what’s the point? We enjoyed our cricket in the A Division and what do we get from the other approach?
“We are putting more emphasis on giving young local players an opportunity to play Premier Cricket - Rory Thomas, Matt Parker and Thom Bunker are examples of this and will play a big part in our season.”
Parker, a Devon age-group seamer, has switched from Whimple and batter Thomas has made the even shorter move from Kentisbeare.
“They are two young, hungry players looking to challenge themselves at a higher standard,” said Chappell.
Foster has impressed in warm-up cricket and will be unleashed on Torquay this Saturday.
“We haven’t seen what he is capable of yet as he has only had a friendly and a couple nets, but he is a great lad and has settled in nicely,” said Chappell.
Gone from last season are keeper-batsman Josh Cann, who has hooked up with dad Brian at Seaton, and ex-Warwickshire spinner Chris Metters, who has rejoined Exmouth.
Chappell is confident his best side can compete with anyone in the Premier Division. Getting it out may be a problem though.
“We do have availability problems this season, with Ross Acton missing five games, and Dan Hardy a similar story,” said Chappell.
“These guys have been a key part of any success we’ve had over the years so it’ll be tough without them, if it’s not tough enough already.”
“We haven’t got the depth and volume of players that some other sides have, so it’s going to be a real test this season and we need guys to step up.
“We are under no illusions: it’s going to be a tough season and avoiding relegation is the main aim.
“If we had our full-strength side each week we would achieve that relatively easily as I am sure many clubs would agree with.
“But it’s easy to say that and I know other clubs suffer the same problem so we have to get on with it and approach each game the right way.”