Defending champions start out at Preston
St Annes Atiq Uz-Zaman plays against his former side Carnforth
Furness Building Society Northern Premier Cricket League (incorporating 3D Sports) Fixtures Sat 25 April 2009
2008 champions Netherfield, who sat out the sun-baked opening day of the season, begin the defence of their league title when they travel to play Preston at West Cliff on Saturday.
But Chris Parry's side has not been idle after defeating fellow Northern League side Barrow to win the delayed 2008 Cumbrian Cup final at Penrith CC last Sunday.
Netherfield pro Glen Batticciotto has arrived from Queensland and makes his debut while there are two new players in the amateur ranks- Alex Atkinson, an U17 county player in the North of England squad joins from Penrith CC and Shane Dixon, a wicket-keeper from Milnthorpe.
Preston's side has changed considerably since last season and was further disrupted in the lead-up to the campaign when all rounder Joe Davies, who was the nominated captain to replace the retired Glenn Johnstone, left the club to join Liverpool Competition side Lytham.
Former Cumberland Minor Counties opening bowler Rhys Williams has also left for Lytham alongside young batsman Fayaz Ughradar. All rounder Munaf Bavla has moved to Blackburn Northern CC in the Ribblesdale League.
And experienced all rounder Lukman Vahaluwala has missed the start of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Darren Nelson has joined Preston from Warton CC while opener Michael Fisher has moved to West Cliff from Palace Shield side Vernon Carus.
Preston CC professional and captain Bilal Asad
Adam Parker has stood down to the amateur ranks after originally being appointed as professional and Bilal Asad retains the professional's job after originally intending to play as an amateur. Bilal Asad also captains the side.
Second XI stalwarts Johnny Winter and Roger Kaye have also left Preston CC during the winter alongside the highly respected coach Clive Henderson (the league's youth development officer) and scorer Dave Pick (the league's treasurer).
Elsewhere St Annes' Atiq Uz-Zaman, the only amateur batsman to reach 1,000 runs last season, aims to get his season kick-started when his former club Carnforth visit Vernon Road.
Atiq, who spent the winter playing and coaching in New Zealand, has been given extended coaching responsibilities at St Annes where the respected Andy Kellett has stepped up from second team captain to First XI skipper.
Kellett will also boosted by the debut of the St Annes professional Dinuk Hettarachchi who will be arriving from Sri Lanka this week but Michael Baer misses the game due to playing for Loughborough University. Sean Bickerdike, who hit a century in the 2nd XI last week, replaces Baer.
But Carnforth have suffered a double blow with Robert Parker, the season's first century maker, and spin bowler Warren Quinn both missing the game due to work commitments. But last week's 50-makers Ryan Nelson and captain Darren 'Skippy' Moore will relish one of the best batting tracks in the league.
Carnforth player/chairman Ben Harrison returns to action after missing last week due to an athletics competition in the north east.
Leyland defeated Lancaster last week without a professional and aim to continue their winning start when they visit Fleetwood.
Leyland are hopeful that professional Ameer Khan will be available and again pick youngsters Henry Thompson and Tom Foster.
Experienced cricketers, captain David Makinson (51) and Peter Cummings (4 for 13) helped Leyland make up for their lack of a paid man with match-winning contributions alongside Chris Parkinson (89 not out).
But Mike Clinning began the season in fine style for Fleetwood, taking four wickets and just missing out on an opening day century in the draw at Carnforth.
After losing to Morecambe in a low-scoring game at Stanley Park, Blackpool have a testing trip to Shap Road to play Kendal who began with a tense win at Barrow.
Blackpool, still awaiting an arrival date for Sri Lankan pro Saj Weerakoon, have the experienced Peter Skuse as sub-pro while Kendal have a deputy pro in young South African JP Lee.
Morecambe host Darwen at Woodhill Lane after both sides recorded opening day wins. Morecambe hope to again have the services of sub-pro Kashif Shafi who took 6 for 10 in the win at Blackpool. Promising all rounder Kamran Anwar returns to the Darwen side.
Chorley, edged out by St Annes last Saturday in a thrilling finish, visit Lune Road to play Lancaster. Young opener Adam Peacock hit his maiden league hundred against St Annes but Chorley sweat on the fitness of captain Jack Catterall, who injured his hand during practice and did not bat last week. Catterall is included in the Chorley XI and Worcestershire CCC wicket-keeper/batsman Jibran Khan is again employed as sub-pro.
Barrow have no game.
Only two of the nominated professionals for the season played last week Bilal Asad for Preston and Carnforth's Gareth Pedder. With continued delays in the arrival of overseas professionals due to changes in regulations many clubs are still unsure when their paid men will arrive to take up their posts.
Many club officials will face another testing week attempting to arrange sub professionals and the quality of their recruits may well determine the results of the games.
After a glorious start to the season weather-wise it is to be hoped that the recent fine spell continues- hopefully until the middle of September at the earliest.
FIRST DIVISION FIXTURES (Sat 25 April)
Fleetwood v Leyland
Kendal v Blackpool
Lancaster v Chorley
Morecambe v Darwen
Preston v Netherfield
St Annes v Carnforth
Barrow no game
Division Two (2nd XI) fixtures reversed