So with just one day to go to the start of the 26th season in 2019, we look ahead to what promises to be an enthralling title race and battle to avoid bottom spot. Castlefields are looking for their 11th title and 3rd in a row, but face a Newport side who have signed some exciting young players who will improve them on and off the green. The two teams meet in week 3 which could decide who has the momentum going forward. This comes after tough trips for the Fields to Meole Brace and Hanwood, so they may well be catching up like last season. Hanwood couldn’t quite break into the top three last season, but will be confident with the addition of Rich Lawson and Simon Lane to be able to do so this one. They will be concentrating on improving their away form which brought just one away win last season. Sir John Bayley have lost two big players in Ant Bracken and Elliot McGuinness but have brought in youth in Harry Church and Ash Gregory as they look to challenge again. St. Georges have lost one of their key players in Ian Gaut but have gained youth in the form of Rob Roden, Martin Gaut and Aaron King, and Mike Wainwright is returning for them after a season out. They will look for better home form to match their impressive away form from last season. Wrockwardine Wood had a great season last year to finish in the top 6 and will look for more of the same despite the loss of Stuart Clee. However Jamie King has signed for them.
Wem USC were the most improved team last season and will be wanting to at least match their top half finish again. With Fred Bailey and George Williams back full time there is no reason why not, although they will want to improve their home form after losing a few games on it last season. Bylet were another team to have a very impressive 2018 season as they finished in their highest ever position and highest points total. They will still look to improve on that as they have added Nick Lewis to their side, although the loss of Rob Steventon will be a tough one. Burway, Chester Road and Ifton all had disappointing seasons last year and are capable of being further up the table. Burway are under new leadership in Jesse James and Ben Allen as they look for a top half finish. Their home form wasn’t as good as it normally is so they will want to improve that as well as get a couple of away wins which they lacked last season. Chester Road have signed a couple of players but it’s the return of Andy Moss that is the positive news for them. They had poor home form last year which they know they have to improve if they are to move up the table. Ifton will be looking for their young players to use the experience of their year in the league last season to improve their points total, as well as trying to get more games out of their Welsh county players. Meole Brace had an up and down season last year, having some great wins and some bad losses, so will aim for a more consistent season. Hanmer finished 31 points behind Meole Brace and will need to make this up as they try and make the most of their reprieve. Their home form wasn’t good last year despite the hot weather but will be hopeful that an extra season on it will help them. Highley are the new boys and will hope to take teams by surprise. They have an experienced line up featuring Staffordshire County bowlers who will take the league in their stride but they did struggle at home last season in the Mid Shropshire league, and know they can’t afford to do that in this league.
So it promises to be an enthralling season at the top and bottom of the league. Good luck to all teams!