With the outfield cut and the pitches rolled, arguably the most eagerly anticipated season is almost upon Sidcup Cricket Club.
With a mixed season between the Saturday league sides, with two promotions and a relegation in 2013, new challenges face all sides this season.
In 2013, Sidcup 1st XI were promoted to Kent League Division 3 after a two-year absence. A fantastic season it was with great team unity and talent enough to see if promoted in second place on the last day of the season.
Home form was crucial for us, managing to go the season unbeaten and this form will need to be replicated again this season if we are to mount a challenge in the league. A fantastic run in the Kent League 20/20 saw us run Beckenham CC, many leagues higher than us very close in the quarter finals and the aim will be to replicate and go beyond this success in 2014.
With the average age of the team only 23 years old, it is only fitting that the captain be 22. In his third season in charge, Mat Kilbey will be the man responsible for leading the side onto the field and will hope his young outfit will be ready for the challenge.
Mat was part of the promotion winning side in 2010 and also suffered the disappointment in immediate relegation from Division 3 in 2011. With such a young side it will be the experience of some of the younger members that will be key to success.
Stability to the middle order will be provided by skipper Kilbey with over 100 1st team league games, 23-year-old all-rounder Tim Dawes, also with over 100 league games and the only player to be over 30 years old in the team, Phil Robinson, his experience and talent with the bat and ball will be key to our success.
Youthful energy will be brought to the team by opening batsmen and highest run scorer in 2013, Henry Walker and ex-Kent leg spinner Casey Jerrom. Both will be hoping for a big season.
New signings Kaylem Short from Faversham CC and George Laing from Bexley will provide a depth of talent. The emerging talent of Kent's young wicket keeper Oliver Robinson is one to watch for the season with exceptional glove work and calmness beyond his years with the bat.
The second XI, following relegation in 2013, will be led by Australian Kim O’Mara in their attempt to bounce back at the first time of asking. Another youthful side will hope to be both challenging at the top of the table but also challenging first team players for their spaces. The success of Alex McCawley and young batsmen Lalit Managrapulu will have a big say on their season.
After a sticky season in 2013, the 3rd XI will be hoping to challenge at the right end of the table. A combination of experience and youth should hold them in good stead with some tough fixtures ahead, with elder statesmen Alan McCawley an integral part of the team for 2014.
After a fantastically successful season for the 4XI, club secretary Mike Buchan will once again be the man in charge of mixing older members and young colts into a cohesive unit. Mike will face a challenge to keep Bowlers Danny Marshall and Dave Pule in his team, captains of the 2s and 3s will have their eye on these two wicket takers.
With a lot of promising work off the field coming to fruition, such as a new 3 lane net facility and major work on the 1st team square set to take place in the autumn of 2014, success on the pitch will be key to keep this club moving in the right direction.