Ilkeston Rutland Cricket Club begin their 185th season this Saturday with fresh sponsors and fresh hope after linking up with Erewash Sound.
For the first XI, it’s a third successive season in County League Division One but with the local radio station emblazoned on their new kit, they’ll be hoping for a chart-topping year.
In 2013, their hopes of a return to the Premier League were high after signing former Sandicacre Town captain John Trueman.
But he failed to deliver the weight of runs expected and although his controlled off-spin made him the club’s bowler of the year, the team managed only seventh spot - 150 points from the promotion places.
This year, he has returned to bolster Sandiacre’s batting in the top flight, but for Rutland, as one Trueman departs, another returns.
Chris Trueman Jnr is one of five additions to the club’s playing resources, returning after a solitary season at high-flying West Hallam.
For the 23-year-old fast bowler, it will be his 12th season playing adult league cricket, and he will be hoping to maintain an incredible record of consistency - never once letting his average go over 30 while taking 171 wickets.
A long-time stalwart of Rutland’s second XI, he will be challenged to bowl at his highest level yet.
Captain David Smit said: “Of course we will miss John Trueman, but in all other respects the club is in a stronger position going into this season with the likes of Chris returning and Andy Flindall playing regularly.
“It is very exciting having a sponsor again and we hope to be providing a few hits of our own on Erewash Sound throughout the summer.”
As well as weekly fixtures in Division One, beginning at Rolleston on Saturday, the first XI are also in the 50-over Marston’s Smooth Trophy and two 20:20 competitions.
The increase in playing capacity will be most welcomed by the club’s second XI, who dropped to Division Five North last year.
They have a new captain - the ultra-experienced Gary Hickinbotham, previously of Shipley Hall - and will be hoping to bounce straight back up with youngsters like Adam Slater, Vic Pilbeam, Joe Bird, Lewis Jones and Matt Parry pushing for first XI places.
The third XI remain under the charge of Jeff Dunbar.
They were the last Rutland side to record a top-half finish, way back in 2009, but with greater playing depth, the club will be hoping to break that cycle of underacheivement.
The first game at Rutland Sports Park on Saturday will feature the second XI at home to Ashover, starting at 1pm.
By Ross Slater