Teddington CC are looking to put last season’s disappointment behind them and mount a serious title challenge in 2014.
Injuries and suspensions took their toll in 2013 and the Bushy Park outfit finished the season sixth, underwhelming for a side that had been runners-up in the five previous seasons.
Captain James Keightley, who took over the reins from former skipper Joe Austin in the summer, reckons the team will bounce back from an inconsistent 2013 and can use their 171-run Middlesex Cup final triumph over Hornsey as inspiration.
He said: “Our final league position in 2013 was a disappointing one, there is no getting away from that.
“We set ourselves high standards and unfortunately we were not consistent enough week in week out last year and that is the reason we finished where we did. We will obviously look to bounce back in 2014.
“The highlight of the year was winning the Middlesex Cup, a competition in which we played some outstanding cricket.”
The club have had a strong pre-season, involving 10 weeks at St Mary’s University and a tour to South Africa.
Teddington have had a full pre-season fixture list, including games against Cambridge and Oxford universities as well as Surrey Premier League runners up Weybridge CC – which they won by 91-runs on Sunday.
Keightley, whose men beat Chesham by 10-wickets in the opening round of the national knockout cup last month, feels the solid preparation will put the side in good stead to challenge for honours in the coming season, having finished behind both derby rivals Twickenham and Richmond last time out.
“We hope to improve on our league position from last year and ultimately the main aim is to win the league for the first time since 2002,” he added.
“We put up some good performances in the cup competitions in 2013 and we hope to do the same this year, especially in the national competition where we have a very proud history.”
The club has had a few new additions to the side since the end of last year, and they welcome back Duncan Wood return from suspension.
Keightley will also have the option of using Middlesex professional Dawid Malan when his county commitments allow.
“Duncan is back and raring to go after a very good pre-season. He is a fantastic bowler and a proven match winner for the club so it’s great to have him back.”
“Dawid’s attitude whenever he plays for the club is first class. His knowledge of the game and the professionalism he brings benefits everyone in the squad.”
Teddington begin the season with a clash against reigning champions Hampstead on May 10, before hosting rivals Twickenham at Bushy Park a week later.