TORQUAY start their defence of the Premier title with a home game against newly promoted Brixham.

The last time Torquay won a Premier title in 1996 they retained it the following year.

Doing it again will be skipper Justin Yau’s aim, but the title-winning squad has suffered some departures during the winter.

Devon captain Matt Thompson now lives and works in Cardiff and is playing for St Fagans in the South Wales Premier League.

Max Waller, whose runs and wickets were instrumental in winning the title for Torquay has also said adios.

Waller, Somerset’s white-ball specialist, has signed to play for Dorset as well this season and is rumoured to be playing A Division cricket for Budleigh Salterton.

Fast-bowling all-rounder Ryan Stevenson is contracted to play for Hampshire, which will inevitably limit appearances for Torquay.

And Kazi Szymanksi, who appeared in the second half of the season after his school commitments finished, is on the Glamorgan Academy, They are bound to monitor his game time.

It hasn’t been one-way traffic out of the Recreation Ground gates as left-arm seamer Ben Williams (Lewdown), batter Reid Mawdsley (Illminster) and keeper-batter George Allen (Warmly) have all arrived.

Torquay still have free-scoring batter Mitch Pugh – he topped the Premier aggregates last summer – and Sach Galhenage (381).

Yau accepts there has been a bit of a talent drain, but feels there are other things to worry about over the next 18 weeks.

“It's a blow to lose the quality in Matt Thompson, Ryan Stevenson and Max Waller but we have recruited well and look forward to seeing how our new boys will face the challenge of premier cricket,” said Yau.

“Clubs will probably be more wary of us after last season's performance and it will be a good feeling taking the field as the champions.

“We will enjoy the year, play hard cricket and see where it takes us.”

It is a while since Torquay crossed swords with Brixham in the league – way back in 1993 in fact – in the days when Julian Wyatt, Ian Coulton and Phil Bradford were piling up runs for Torquay.

“Brixham are a bit of an unknown quantity for us as we are unfamiliar with a couple of players they've recruited,” said Yau.

“It is good for South Devon to see another club in the top division and hopefully the weather stays good for a good game of cricket.

“A local derby is always a match which we look forward to and we will go into the game looking to continue our streak from last season.”