The only way is up for Chorley Cricket Club and their captain Andrew Holdsworth.
The Windsor Park outfit finished bottom of the pile in the Northern League but hopes are high that the team’s young talent will step up to the plate.
Chorley boast four senior teams and five junior sides but it’s in the 1st XI that they’ll largely be judged.
This year’s pro is one of Chorley’s favourite sons Gaurav Dhar.
The talented leg spinner has been on the staff of the MCC but this is his first full-time professional role and he’s been tasked with trying to turn around the fortunes of his home town club.
He’ll be helped by player coach Iain Critchley, whose brother Michael will almost certainly be in the shake-up for a first Xi spot.
Talented batsman James Reynard has left the club and Holdsworth has identified former captain Jack Catterall and left arm bowler Kieran McCullagh as the ones to watch.
Now in his second full-time season as captain, Holdsworth wants a top five finish in the Northern League and some decent cup runs. He said the team this season will be one of the fittest to the take to the field at Windsor Park.
“We have spoken about last season and moved on,” Holdsworth said. “The players have been training hard, putting in three-hour sessions on Saturday afternoons over the past few weeks and we are all looking forward to the season.
“All the players live within a three-mile radius of the ground so there’s a real spirit of camaraderie and togetherness. We all want to do well for Chorley and we are all Chorley through and through.”
Last year’s pro South African JJ Smuts scored 747 runs at an average of 57 but failed to galvanise the young players in the same way that the previous pros like Friedel de Wet and Chris Hartley managed to.
Holdsworth said: “Chris Hartley, our Australian pro made a huge impact in 2009 not only on the field but off it as well and I’m expecting Gaurav to do the same. He knows the club inside out and knows what the members expect in terms of commitment and performance.
“Already there are signs that Gaurav is making an impact on what will be his first professional engagement.
“Though he’s only young he’s an experienced cricketer, a good batsman, fine fielder and really good leg-spin bowler and he’s gained a lot of experience during his time at Lord’s.
“Gaurav still harbours hopes of breaking through into county cricket and knows that doing well for Chorley will enable him to get noticed.
“But if he doesn’t make that step, realistically he could be a league professional for the next 20 years. His enthusiasm for the game is infectious and that’s rubbing off on the players.”
Chorley have also recruited Iain Critchley from a spell in the Bolton Association and he’ll perform the allrounder duties.
The key, however, will be who gets Chorley’s runs as their batting was definitely the weak link in 2010.
Jack Catterall, fresh from a round the world tour with team-mate Billy Smith, will be expected to lead from the front, while youngster Will Moulton must start fullfilling his potential.
Stu Naden, last season’s record breaking second XI batsman will be pressing for a regular first team spot after a winter in Australia.
On the bowling front Holdsworth has, on paper at least, a wealth of options with Billy Smith, Kieran McCullagh and Jimmy Lee forming one of the league’s best seam attacks alongside spinners Dhar and Critchley.