CHIRK came close to promotion in Division One of the Shropshire League last summer when skipper Andrew Swarbrick enjoyed a stellar season.

The all-rounder (pictured left) smashed 890 runs and walked off with a host of end-of-season prizes, including the player of the year award.

“It was a great season but I had a bit of luck along the way,” said Swarbrick, who misses the first game of the season at home to Wellington Seconds where new skipper Luke Gardner will be in charge.

“Luke is a player for the future and I’m sure he’ll do well.”

Wynn Jones and Ollie Gough are both ruled out through injury so Liam Walker and the returning Johnny Phillips will open the batting.

Northop Hall will also begin their Liverpool Competition season this weekend.

In Division One of the competition, there are home comforts for Hall tomorrow as they entertain Fleetwood Hesketh.

They warmed up for their season opener with last weekend’s friendly versus North Wales League champions St Asaph, with the Saints coming out on top by 32 runs.

In Division One of the Liverpool Competition’s Second XI section, Northop Hall travel to Fleetwood Hesketh tomorrow, while Northop Hall Thirds head to Caldy Thirds for their first contest of the summer.

Chester Boughton Hall hope they will have another pace ace on their hands this season.

Shakeem Clarke - the son of former West Indian and Surrey fast bowler Sylvester - has signed for Hall to play in the Cheshire County Premier League as the season begins at home to Bowdon on Saturday.

James Duffy has taken over as captain at Filkins Lane and he is looking forward to wrestling the title away from champions Nantwich.

“We’ve had three good pre-season run outs and now it’s down to the serious business,” said Duffy.

“Shakeem Clarke has landed and is adjusting well. We’re hoping to be at full strength and can’t wait to get going.”

This season’s Welsh Cup starts on Sunday with a trio of preliminary round ties.

Connah’s Quay host Northop Hall, Gresford head to Buckley and Bangor welcome Denbigh.