Louth Cricket Club skipper Laurence Scott believes his side should be chasing a Lincs ECB play-off spot after some subtle squad strengthening.
The First XI found themselves at the wrong end of the table in Lincs league cricket’s top tier last term, finishing ninth of the 12 teams who started the campaign.
But while still more than two months away from the new season, an air of optimism is building.
Last week the club unveiled its overseas signing for next summer, South African batsman Brendon Louw, an experienced first class cricketer in prime form.
Louw, who has made 105 First-Class appearances, is enjoying an excellent season with the bat for Cape Town club South Western Districts, hitting a career-high score of 167 in November against Gauteng.
The 28-year-old arrives in mid-April for his fifth season of English cricket on the recommendation of another former Louth overseas player, Xander Pitchers.
The Namibian became a popular and successful figure during his two summers at London Road.
“I still keep in touch with Xander, who is an ex-team-mate of Brendon and said he was an excellent cricketer and a very good coach,” said Scott.
“It should be an exciting season, and Brendon is excited to come across and get involved in our community.”
While a wicketkeeper-batsman by trade in his homeland, Louw will bat at four and bowl off-spin for Louth.
But he will spend an equal, if not greater portion of his time, coaching juniors at the club, as well as working with budding cricketers in local schools.
“We don’t just want someone who turns up on Saturday and doesn’t get involved for the rest of the week,” Scott added.
“We want someone who will be involved seven days a week, and will even help some of our senior players, too.”
Scott, who will begin his third season as first team captain on April 25, believes Louw will help develop a young side, with around a quarter of the team aged 18 to 22.
“We have quite a young side so he will be one of our more senior figures in having a voice in the changing room, and give them some support and backing,” he explained.
“He seems quite a relaxed character, and just having a calming influence as a professional who has been there and done it will really help.
“Last season we played good cricket, but lost a lot of close games by less than 10 runs or by one wicket.
“If you flip them the other way we would have finished a lot higher up the table. It’s just learning to get over the line.”
Having full seasons out of Andrew White and Steve Kirkham, who arrived at London Road mid-season following Alford’s resignation from the league in 2019, will further bolster the squad.
And the Louth captain likens the return of vice-captain Richard Bell to a new signing after he was absent for most of last summer.
The 19-year-old is currently sharpening his skills playing league cricket in Australia with a suburban Melbourne club.
“Having Brendon, Andrew White, Steve Kirkham and Richard available for the whole season will give us a stable side,” Scott added.
“It will be a 10-team league next season, instead of 12, so it will be quite competitive, but we will want to be pushing for the play-offs.
“It sounds like a big jump, but one I think we can do.”