Bond Timber Cornwall Cricket League ECB Cornwall Premier League season preview

THE ECB Cornwall Premier League starts tomorrow, and is sure to be as competitive as ever.

Wadebridge were crowned county champions for the first time since 1967 as they won the title last summer, and all eyes will be on James Turpin’s side to see if they can successfully defend their crown.

South African run-machine Kevin Renecke returns for another season, while the new signings are Matt Rowe and Fred Wilkinson.

Former Cornwall all-rounder Rowe looks set to bat at three and bowl some off-spin if required, while Wilkinson has moved from Callington to take the gloves.

The rest of the squad appears to be the same.

Penzance have the best team in the county but hopes of a four straight title were dashed as Wadebridge edged them to the title.

Director of cricket and club captain Greg Smith has left after eight seasons to join Northamptonshire as their batting coach, and the former Essex and Derbyshire star will be a huge miss.

Batsman Ben Seabrook has been named captain and the St Clare club have brought back German international Dylan Blignaut as their overseas player having had two successful seasons at the club in 2018 and 2019.

Wiltshire opening bowler Josh Croom has also been recruited and the left-armer is sure to shake up the division with his pace and lower-order hitting, as has opening batsman Grant Stone from Newquay.

Batsmen Kian Burns and Chris Gibson have also left, while the seconds have lost Ryan Edwards, Glyn Furnival and Liam Devine to Division Two West outfit Stithians.

St Austell finished third last summer and will once again aim to overachieve.

They have the same squad with the exception of their overseas player.

All-rounder Jonty Leadbeater – who batted in the top six and bowled leg-spin – has been replaced by fellow Australian Daniel Standing, a left-arm spinner and lower order batsman.

Werrington overachieved to finish fourth after a couple of summers of struggle, but this time look set to be in the top half again at the very least.

In recent times they have used amateur cricketers from Australia as their overseas, but this time have gone down a different route, bringing in Sri Lankan professional Thiluna Dilshan.

An opening batsman and handy leg-spinner, the Ladycross outfit have high hopes for him.

They also have brought in all-rounder Ryan Pooley from Tintagel for his first crack at top-flight cricket.

He’s racked up plenty of runs and wickets over the years, and will hope to translate that to the biggest stage in the Duchy.

Their neighbours Callington once again look strong on paper, and will expect for better after surviving on the final day two years in a row.

Former Glamorgan all-rounder Graham Wagg has taken over as captain from Luke Brenton having been the club’s professional for the final six games of 2023, while former Somerset leg-spinner Max Waller, who has been at St Just for the last two summers, has also arrived.

South African overseas player Liam Lindsay is back for a second year and will bat at three, while the hard-hitting Matt Shepherd has rejoined the club from Holsworthy.

St Just are always in the top half and although the eight-time champions are unlikely to be at the top end, they will still cause teams problems, particularly at home.

Sri Lankan left-arm spinner Chamika Edirisinghe is back for a third season at the club having missed last year, but the absence of Waller will hit them hard.

A promising band of youngsters will also need the experience of Gareth May and Neil Curnow to be to the fore once more.

Redruth flirted with the drop last summer and also have a Sri Lankan on their books in batting all-rounder Dulash Udayanga who is also a ECB Level 2 coach.

Off-spinner Piran Kent has replaced wicket-keeper Peter Howells as captain.

Camborne also have two imports for the season as they seek to keep themselves away from trouble.

They have lost opening bowler Gareth Mankee back to Beacon but have New Zealander Jordan Gateley as their overseas player and Australian top-order batsman Josh Fontana who has an ancestral visa.

Helston confirmed their survival on the final day to send Hayle down, and the Blues are also under new leadership.

Batsman Mark Jenkin takes over from the long-serving Steve Jenkin.

South African all-rounder Lance Alberts replaces Aussie Niran Wijewardene as their overseas, while the bowling attack has been boosted by the arrivals of Mullion duo Ryan Tonkin and Charlie Hearn.

Tonkin is likely to take the new ball, while Hearn provides another spin option.

Truro were relegated out of the top-flight for the first time in their history in 2022, but the city club made an immediate return by winning County Division One.

Their bowling, already strong, has been boosted by the arrival of former Pakistan international all-rounder Amir Yamin as their overseas player and ex Gorran and St Austell paceman Conway Gilbert who is back in the area.

Yamin, who is a genuine all-rounder should prove quite a hit during the summer, while former Cornwall spinner Neil Ivamy will still be one of the best spinners around.

They entertain Penzance on the opening day.

For some clubs it will be their first run out after the Premier T20 Kernow Crash was cancelled due to the appalling spring weather, while some have managed to get a pre-season friendly in, meaning the opening weeks could cause some shock results.

Opening day fixtures (1pm): Camborne v Callington, Helston v Werrington, Redruth v Wadebridge, St Austell v St Just, Truro v Penzance.