In recent seasons, Old Buckenham have tended to flit between third and fourth position in the newly-sponsored Cecil Amey Opticians Norfolk Cricket Alliance Premier Division.
However, ahead of his team’s 2017 season opener at home to last term’s champions Brooke tomorrow (1pm), captain Terry Perry is hopeful that Old Bucks can finish at least one place higher this time around.
To help fulfil that aim, it has been a busy winter for the club, with Perry’s squad boosted by three new players and two returning after spells away.
South African batting all-rounder Nick Pentz has taken the overseas position, while batsmen Ben Shearing and Steve Cadge have arrived from Swardeston.
Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Chris Howes is back after leaving to join the Navy, with all-rounder Andy Lawrence available after injury limited his appearances last year.
And according to Perry, his squad is now strong enough to potentially mount a challenge on the top-two places.
“We are always looking to improve. It was a good season last year (finishing fourth) but we do not want to stand still,” said the skipper.
“To continue the good work we have gained players. Today, players have other commitments, so you need 15 or 16 over the course of a season.
“We have better strength in depth and while I am not going to say we should be winning the title, I expect an improvement on last year. Because of that, we want to be challenging.
“Our younger players will also be another season older and wiser, so it is all building up to be a decent season.”
If Old Bucks are to match Perry’s expectations, a good start to the campaign will be imperative.
They won just half of their opening six games of last season — something Perry admitted will have to change going forward.
“This is such a tight league — it has been that way for years,” he added.
“It is really important to get some points on the board early on if we are to kick on.
“The aim is to win as many matches as possible throughout May and then we will assess where we are from there.
“Brooke have lost a few players over the winter, but we are still expecting a tough game.
“The lads are really keen to get out there and get playing some competitive cricket.”
Old Bucks’ first match with Brooke last year was abandoned, while the second saw the eventual champions run out winners by a four-run margin.