Lisburn will be aiming to put last season behind them and rediscover their winning ways of 2018 when the new campaign gets underway on July 18.
After winning Section One two years ago, the Wallace Park side started their return to life in the Premier League in fine fashion by winning three of their opening six matches before losing eight in a row to survive the drop on net run-rate.
With that now history, Lisburn moved to bring in a number of high-quality signings with Irish international Boyd Rankin joining the club alongside Josh Manley, Matthew Humphreys, Chris Burns, Luke Allison and Tom O’Connor.
Like most clubs, they will be without their overseas professional Faiz Fazal but captain Adam Berry isn’t fazed by that prospect after the recent success they enjoyed.
“I think the advantage we have is that two seasons ago we played in Section One and won the league with a local team and no overseas players which brought us closer together as a team and meant everyone had to step up,” he said.
“The hunger and desire the team showed that season is something we will be looking to emulate this season and build into next with this squad.”
Rankin will almost certainly be missing for Lisburn’s Robinson Services Cup opener against Woodvale and the following three matches as he is expected to be named in Ireland’s 20-man squad for a series against England which departs on the same day as that game.
Manley impressed in his first NCU campaign for Instonians in 2019, picking up 26 wickets at an average of 11.09 – the best of any player in the union.
Berry is hoping to have both available at some point throughout the season and is excited to see what they can achieve at their new home.
“We are delighted to have both at the club,” he added.
“We have managed to attract two really good guys with real, proven quality and guys we will all learn from.
“With the connection through brother Bob we have always dreamed of having Boyd over to play in the same way I’m sure Boyd has always dreamed of pulling on the old gold, green and black of Lisburn!
“In terms of availability we will be keeping in touch with both in the hope we can have them available for some fixtures throughout the season.
“Boyd and Josh would improve any side and we are looking forward to welcoming both to the club hopefully sooner rather than later.”
It has been a long wait for the cricket season to come around and it’ll be over 10 months since Lisburn stepped onto the field when they host newly-promoted Woodvale.
A lot of work has been done behind the scenes by every club to get back into training and making sure they are in a position to return to play, and Berry paid tribute to those that have been getting everything ready for the resumption of cricket at Wallace Park.
“Naturally everyone is looking forward to getting some competitive cricket in which at one point didn’t seem possible,” he said.
“The pictures on social media of the park I think have been teasing us for a long time so it has been great to get back down.
“Credit has to go to Dean Simpson, Brian Mulholland and all of the grounds team for all the effort they have put in maintaining the place and getting it ready to play.
“I can’t thank everyone at the club and the NCU enough for the work which has been done to make a season, albeit shortened, possible.
“Fingers crossed the weather is good and we get to fulfil all the fixtures.”
Lisburn will also face a trip to Carrickfergus in the LVS Twenty20 Cup first round on July 26.
They struggled in the competition last season in its more traditional round robin format, losing all three group games that were contested (three were also void) but will be hoping they can rediscover the form that helped them reach the 2013 and 2016 finals.
“Truthfully, last season given the format of the T20 competition and the midweek fixtures wasn’t great for us with most of the team working however, the guys are looking forward to the challenge this season,” he added.
“It’s a format we have enjoyed previously, reaching finals against Waringstown and North Down a few seasons back. We have a young team and the guys are all excited to get going.”
With a nice mix of youth and experience at his disposal, Berry is looking to use any opportunities they get this season to set a platform for the years to come while also giving those connected with the club something to enjoy.
“We do have a good mix of youth and experience and again given the format the guys will be looking to go out and express themselves,” he said.
“It is an exciting squad and culture we are trying to create and hopefully lay some foundations this season before a full season next year.
“I think the main goal is for the guys to all go out and enjoy themselves and make the most of the opportunity we have been given.
“It’s been a difficult and stressful time for everyone and getting back to some normality or routine of playing summer cricket will be a relief not only for the players but supporters and all those connected to the club.
“From a players perspective, it would be great to give something back to all those supporters of the club and those that have put in so much work behind the scenes to make this season possible.”