Under new leadership, Shrivenham Cricket Club begin their pre-season preparation ahead of the new league season starting on May 3.

Alex Bowles, 21, will this year captain a Shrivenham 1st XI who face the daunting task of defending Airey and T20 Tony Pullinger Cup titles as well as improving on their runners up spot in the Oxfordshire Cricket Association League Division 1.

Still, Bowles remains optimistic: “This season will be a huge learning curve for many people in the team, playing in new roles and having to take that little step up.

“Having been so successful last year, we have set our standards and we all know what we can achieve if we put our minds to it.

“The pressure will be on us to replicate our fine form of last season and everything is telling me we can.”

After two rained off friendly fixtures already, Shrivenham will play Witney Swifts on Sunday in what will be their final chance of valuable game time before the league season gets underway on May 3 away at Great Horwood.

Club chairman Nigel Tucker reiterated Bowles’ words, but he admitted: “Things will have to go well to take all three competitions.

“If we were in a position to choose, obviously the league’s the key one.

“Last year was almost certainly the most successful season we’ve had, so looking forward, we want to further develop the junior’s involvement, which has already helped produce the core of our current first team.”

The Oxfordshire Cricket Association Division One title still remains the one accolade to have eluded Shrivenham in their history, yet despite the loss of key personnel from last year’s side this young group still remain confident of another title challenge in 2014.