A look at the runners and riders in the Foster's Lancashire League...
Ground: Thorneyholme Road
Captain: Stuart Crabtree
Professional: Ockert Erasmus (South Africa)
Ins: Ramiz Hussain
Outs: Aijaz Shah
Last year: Champions
One to watch: Simon Hanson
Last year’s champions were quite brilliant throughout 2013 and are excited about the new campaign. Record breaking professional Ashar Zaidi has been replaced by Ockert Erasmus, who is a proven fine performer at East Lancashire, and they can once again be in the mix. Accrington were written off by many at the start of last year - it would be unwise to discount them completely this time around.
Donlan predicts: 7th
Captain: Matt Thompson
Professional: Haseeb Azam (Pakistan)
Outs: Jack McGregor, Jo Sipocz, Joe McCluskie
Last year: 13th
One to watch: Tim Farragher
The loss of all-rounder Joe McCluskie, fast bowler Jo Sipocz and wicketkeeper Jack McGregor is a huge blow to Bacup’s hopes and new skipper Matt Thompson will lead a young side at Lanehead. They were second from bottom last season and are likely to struggle this time around with much depending on how new professiona Haseeb Azam settles into league cricket.
Donlan predicts: 14th
Ground: Turf Moor
Captain: Bharat Tripathi
Professional: Chris Holt (England)
Ins: Jonathan Clare, Bradley Ramshead, Jhangir Liaqat, Oliver Norwood
Outs: Nas Iqbal, Qasim Ali, Steven Whittaker
Last year: 3rd, Worsley Cup winners
One to watch: Chris Burton
Burnley won the Worsley Cup last year and there is no reason why they cannot be right in the shake-up. Qasim Ali’s runs are a loss but with Derbyshire star Jonathan Clare playing when county duties allow and David Brown also available Burnley will go close, especially if new pro Chris Holt can get into the groove with bat and ball. Huddersfield football Oliver Norwood has also signed on at the Turf.
Donlan predicts: 1st
Ground: West End
Captain: Craig Fergusson
Professional: Usman Tariq (Pakistan)
Ins: Bilal Abbas, Aqeel Shah, Kamran Basharat, Ryan Wood
Last year: 5th
One to watch: Lloyd Aspin
Surely this must be the year Church can finally put some silverware in the West End trophy cabinet after going so close in recent times. Craig Fergusson leads a strong side who are always a major threat in the cups and they are a good bet for the Worsley Cup, although whether they can last the full course in the league remains to be seen. A top five spot is most likely though.
Donlan predicts: 5th
Ground: The Horsfield
Captain: Matt Walker
Professional: Ali Azmat (Pakistan)
Ins: Andy Hakin, Adil Ali, Tom Bradshaw
Outs: Bradley Ramshead, Reece Whitehead
Last year: 14th
One to watch: Andy Hakin
Colne’s off-field problems have been well documented but Matt Walker leads a side with renewed hope in 2014. Three new amateurs are all big news for the Horsfielders and former Earby professional Ali Azmat will have no worries scoring big runs in the Lancashire League. The league is rallying round Colne - and the players will do their bit to propel the side up the table this time.
Donlan predicts: 12th
Ground: Alexandra Meadows
Captain: Mark Bolton
Professional: Matthew Kleinveldt (South Africa)
Ins: Chris Riley, Shahrukh Khan
Last year: 9th
One to watch: Chris Riley
East Lancashire want a big season for their 150th year and with Mark Bolton taking over as skipper once again they will not settle for second best. New pro Matthew Kleinveldt is interesting and the return to the club of Chris Riley will bolster a side whose youngsters are capable of stepping up to the mark. If they can keep a settled side then Alexandra Meadows could be a good place to be.
Donlan predicts: 6th
Ground: Dill Hall Lane
Captain: Adam Bracewell
Professional: Werner Coetsee (South Africa)
Ins: Ben Dowling, Liam Bedford, Chris Bowness
Last year: 8th
One to watch: Liam Bedford
Enfield tailed off last year but the return of Werner Coetsee is a massive boost for the men from Dill Hall Lane. Ben Dowling has joined from Great Harwood and his pace will unsettle batsmen while Liam Bedford is also an astute signing. Runs will not be a problem for wicketkeeper Bedford who has shone for Barnoldswick in recent years. They will be hard to beat.
Donlan predicts: 8th
Ground: Bent Gate
Captain: Phill Hayes
Professional: Brenton Parchment (West Indies)
Ins: Tom Richards, Jo Sipocz, Anthony Harris, Anthony Harris
Outs: Josh Walker
Last year: 6th
One to watch: Phill Hayes
Phill Hayes has taken over from run machine Graham Knowles as skipper and if he can get back to his brilliant best with the bat and Knowles carries on scoring then runs will flow. Brilliant Jamaican Brenton Parchment is back and will win half a dozen games himself and the bowling attack is boosted by Jo Sipocz. If Haslingden can hit the ground running they will be hard to stop.
Donlan predicts: 3rd
Ground: The Neville Gee Recruitment Ground
Captain: Charlie Cottam
Professional: Cobus Pienaar (South Africa)
Ins: None Outs: Joe Beneduce
Last year: 2nd, T20 champions
One to watch: Jonny Whitehead
Lowerhouse wanted a third straight title last year but had to settle for second place and the T20 Cup. They will start the season as they mean to go on and their talent-packed young team will never roll over as they bid to claim the championship back. Cobus Pienaar performed well in the Northern League and he can give them the extra advantage they need.
Donlan predicts: 2nd
Captain: Neil Thompson
Professional: Ryan Canning (South Africa)
Ins: Sam Halstead, Nick Burton
Outs: Max Howells, Sean Lemon, David Crotty, Jhangir Liaqat, Adil Ali, Tom Bradshaw, Chris Willan, Garry Grimshaw, James Lickess
Last year: 7th
One to watch: Tyler McGladdery Neil Thompson must dread the winter months as just when he starts to develop a team capable of making a push he loses a clutch of key men. This winter has been the same as the last for the classy all-rounder as he has lost some big performers. But Sam Halstead is back at his old club and Thompson will lead from the front with Tyler McGladdery and Harrison Phelan likely to have landmark campaigns.
Donlan predicts: 11th
Ground: Acre Bottom
Captain: Rob Read
Professional: Daryn Smit (South Africa)
Ins: Jack McGregor, Leigh Dickinson
Outs: Mark Dentith, Dom Gowers, Harry Dearden, Steve Dearden, Andy Hakin, Sam Halstead, Mark Gowers, Rob Faulkner
Last year: 4th
One to watch: Tom Parton
A new year and a new look Ramsbottom with Rob Read taking over as skipper from Jon Fielding and a very impressive professional in the shape of Dolphins’ ace Daryn Smit. Harry Dearden is a big loss as he moves with his dad Steve to Woodbank but Tom Parton really can step up to the mark with the bat after his wonderful 2013. Despite the changes Rammy could challenge again.
Donlan predicts: 4th
Ground: The Worswick Memorial Ground
Captain: Vinny Hanson
Professional: Brett Pelser (South Africa)
Last year: 11th
One to watch: Sam Kershaw
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it - Rawtenstall were shaping up well last season and are certain to continue their improvement. Brett Pelser’s return is huge for everyone at the club and he will continue the development of the youngsters. A league push is probably beyond them but the Worsley Cup is a serious aim and Keith Roscoe will carry on adding to his record number of wickets.
Donlan predicts: 10th
Ground: Blackburn Road
Captain: Shaun Hutchinson
Professional: Matt Hulett (South Africa)
Ins: Irfan Muhammed, Paul Clifford
Outs: Richard Rostron, Scott Greaves
Last year: 12th
One to watch: Ali Sartaj
Dan Salpietro was a major player for Rishton last year and Matt Hulett has big shoes to fill for Rishton but the early signs are good. Shaun Hutchinson could barely name the same side two matches running last year and that cost them dear with youngsters often being forced to carry too much weight on their shoulders. The skipper doesn’t need that this time around.
Donlan predicts: 13th
Ground: Centre Vale
Captain: Andrew Sutcliffe
Professional: Michael Neser (Australia)
Ins: Zeshan Shoukhat
Outs: Bilal Abbas
Last year: 10th
One to watch: Elliot Gilford
Todmorden are determined to improve on last year’s disappointment when their season was wrecked by injury after injuryand they have the ammunition to do just that this time around. Skipper Andrew Sutcliffe is always a big player and the signing of Aussie quick Michael Neser - a genuine aggressive paceman - will be interesting, especially if the sun shines and the wickets are hard.
Donlan predicts: 9th