The Ribblesdale League season starts this weekend – weather permitting – with Baxenden defending their title.

Here are the ins, outs and hopes of the Hyndburn teams for the coming summer ...

BAXENDEN

CAPTAIN: Andy Caunce

LAST SEASON: Top

INS: Matt Schofield (Acc); Daniel Holland (Walshaw)

OUTS: Simon Payne (retired); Lewis McIntosh (Haslingden)

PROFESSIONAL: Kamran Younis has been in the runs for Whalley and hopes to transfer it to Bash. He will miss the first two games of the season with former pro Baber Naeem, who has switched to the Central Lancashire League, expected to step in tomorrow

BRIEF SUMMARY OF LAST SEASON: Andy Caunce: "It obviously was a good one in the league. We had a bad patch but we managed to re-group which coincided with Lewis McIntosh coming back from injury, and then performed well. In the cups, a couple of decisions let us down but we had a good Ramsbottom Cup semi-final with Read.

HOPES FOR NEW CAMPAIGN: "Firstly it is to defend our title; losing Lewis McIntosh is a blow but Ben Swindells will hopefully step up. He won Young Player of the Year so did well but now has his chance. Liam Riley can also play every game as he has switched jobs so that’s a bonus for us.

"I think we will have a strong Twenty20 squad. With five bowlers needed in the cup, we will be using 15-year-old Fred Nixon – he did well in the cups for us last year.

"I think it will be the usual threats for the title– Clitheroe, Barnoldswick and Read will all be in with a shout while you can never write Great Harwood off."

GREAT HARWOOD

CAPTAIN: Paul Houldsworth

LAST SEASON: 8th

INS : Ben Dowling (St Annes CC); Stephen Wright (wicketkeeper Fleetwood) Adil Ali (spinner, unattached), Asad Mehmood (unattached)

OUTS: Phillip Allen (Swinton Methodists CC) , Jonathan Crabtree (retired/year out), Matthew Howarth (pending work commitments)

PROFESSIONAL: Syed Shahabuddin – returning to follow up on successful 2008 and 2011 seasons, and looking to improve on 920 league runs and 71 league wickets. There was a risk he may not be here for opening weekend but captain Paul Houldsworth was hopeful.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF LAST SEASON: Disappointing performances from the amateur ranks didn’t back up some wonderful displays from the professional.

Paul Houldsworth: "We used 30-odd players and you can’t do that if you want to win things. The amateurs underperformed and if we hadn’t, with Shobby’s (Shahabuddin) peformance’s, we should have been in the top three.

HOPES FOR THE NEW CAMPAIGN: A transitional season with more first XI match time given to youngsters coming through. It’s also time for the senior amateurs to improve and back up the professional’s performances. Paul Houldsworth: "It is disappointing at the moment as there are few youngsters coming through.

"I am 42 now and Russell Whalley is 43 and we aren’t getting any younger and we aren’t as good as we were.

"We can’t keep relying on the old guard. But, with the players we have signed and the pro, we want a Lancashire Cup place."

 OSWALDTWISTLE IMMANUEL

CAPTAIN: Nick Payne

LAST SEASON: 12th

INS John Baldwin (Cherry Tree) and Neil Weaver (Blackburn Northern) plus Andrew Metcalf available again after out for season and half with long term injury.

OUTS Imran Abid (Edenfield)

PROFESSIONAL: Chris Cook-Martin. At Immanuel for his third year and got 836 league runs last season

HOPES FOR THE NEW CAMPAIGN: Nick Payne: "We are hoping for a top half of the table finish this season. Although we have lost 30-40 wickets in Imran Abid we feel our three new signings will more than compensate for this.

"Andrew Metcalf is back aftter injury and he can give us 30-40 wickets and 300-400 runs in a season.

"John Baldwin has come from Cherry Tree. I have grown up with John and he has a good cricketing brain and he will help out with the team.

"Then there is Neil Weaver who’s an all-rounder, a top order batsman and a good bowler so, between the three, we hope for around 80 wickets and plenty of runs so we may no miss Imran as much as people think.

"The Ramsbottom Cup final this season is at New Lane so it would be great if get a good run in the cup although we have to beat Great Harwood in the first round – and Russell Whalley is my boss so there is plenty of stick going around!

"It’s tricky to pick the teams who will be challenging for the title this season. Baxenden have lost Lewis McIntosh and Baber Naeem which could weaken them while Clitheroe have signed a few and may be strong. Edenfield have also added to their team while Great Harwood will want to bounce back after not doing as well last season."