Serious Cricket Home Counties Premier League

BANBURY captain Ian Hawtin believes they are strong enough to mount a title challenge in Division 1.

But having finished seventh after an inconsistent 2011 campaign, a big improvement is needed from the north Oxfordshire men.

Hawtin said: “The outlook for the season is positive.

“If we can keep fit, then we should be looking to challenge.

“There is no doubt we have got the ability in the side, but we need to concentrate on playing well.”

Banbury are due to begin their season tomorrow at Bishop’s Stortford.

The club, who amalgamated with Banbury Twenty during the close season, have recruited promising Oxfordshire batsman/wicket-keeper Jonny Cater from Buckingham.

Bowler Jacques Prinsloo joins from West of England Premier side Westbury, while all-rounder Ben Stafford is another recruit from Buckingham.

Seamer Josh Megson is primed for his chance after moving through Banbury’s youth ranks.

Batsmen Shahbaz Ali and Sam Cheshire, plus seamer Luke Radford have left.

Vice-captain Jimmy Phillips said: “The club now run five sides from three grounds in Banbury.

“The resulting wider player and facility base has had an encouraging impact and created a positive atmosphere.”

IN: J Cater (batsman/wicket-keeper, Buckingham), J Prinsloo (bowler, West-bury), B Stafford (all-rounder, Buckingham).

OUT: Shahbaz Ali (batsman, Horspath), L Radford (seamer, Leamington Spa), S Cheshire (batsman, Leamington Spa).

BANBURY’S TITLE TIP: High Wycombe or Henley.