WITH cricket sides from across the region set to begin their respective campaigns this weekend, reporter Dean Jones highlights five players to keep an eye on in what is sure to be another eventful season across a number of leagues.
Francois Mostert (Bangor)
Mostert is arguably the best player operating in the North Wales Premier Division, and the South African is once again going to play a pivotal role after agreeing to return to Bangor and lead their title charge.
He is a dominant force on both sides of the ball, amassing 514 runs from 19 innings last season at an average of 39.54.
The all-rounder also contributed a staggering 63 wickets, best figures of 7/44 and five performances which merited five wicket hauls at a strike rate of 17.73, or 38 per cent of the team’s wickets.
If Bangor are to go better than their third placed finish last season, they are going to need Mostert to perform to the same level that has made him one of the most talked about competitors on the region’s circuit.
Dion Holden (Menai Bridge)
This season is going to be one of great responsibility for Holden, who has taken over the captaincy as Bridge look to regain their title after they were dethroned by Llandudno.
Despite holding a career average of 37, the batsman was inconsistent at times last term which resulted in him finishing the campaign with 525 runs from 20 innings at a rate of 29.17.
After spending his offseason working with the North Wales MCC Foundation Hub, Holden now returns in a role of responsibility that he is expected to thrive in, so expect his numbers to increase to the level we are accustomed to seeing from the ex-Glamorgan Academy and Wales youth star.
Will Higginson (Colwyn Bay)
Higginson has been a target of Bay skipper Sion Morris for some time, and they finally secured the coveted signature ahead of their second Liverpool and District Premier Division campaign.
The gifted all-rounder will open the bowling for the Penrhyn Avenue outfit in addition to providing some valuable middle order runs, which is something that was severely lacking in the Bay side last term.
If they are going to avoid another relegation fight against the best teams in the North West, then they are going to need a huge contribution from the ex-Northop Hall standout, and his arrival has significantly strengthened a squad that now boasts Gareth Goodson, Pat Leach and overseas star Rumesh Buddika.
Harrison Jones (Denbigh)
The first half of last season proved to be a frustrating one for Jones, who was used sparingly by Colwyn Bay forcing the talented youngster to return to his home club Denbigh.
His return coincided with a stark upturn in form from the North Wales Premier Division new boys, with captain Stuart Griffiths hailing the Welsh Cup winner as “one of the best spin bowlers in the league”.
Jones managed to claim seven wickets from 49 overs last term at a strike rate of 42, and with a solid preseason behind him and more chances to make an impact with the ball, those numbers should soar in what should be another successful season for the Ystrad Road side.
Danial Evans (Llandudno)
One of the stories of last season, Evans provide to be a huge factor in Llandudno’s title winning campaign despite his tender age, which confirmed him as one of the best prospects anywhere in the region.
After averaging an outstanding 36 from 18 visits to the crease, including a sensational unbeaten 145 from 156 deliveries in their vital win over Hawarden Park, the classy batsman is sure to develop further during the upcoming campaign, which should strike fear into every bowler plying their trade in the Premier Division.
His talents do not end with the bat, with Evans also achieving 20 wickets at an average of 16.45, so if The Oval side are to make a successful defence of their crown then they will need the hot prospect to be at his very best throughout what promises to be another thrilling season in the top flight.