North of Scotland cricket will return competitively for the first time in over a year when two Senior Cup matches take place tomorrow.
Buckie are the holders, having won the competition in each of the last two seasons prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Moray outfit starting their defence at home to Northern Counties.
The Inverness outfit have lofty ambitions of their own this season, however, and Counties captain Shaun Thomas is determined to issue a statement of intent in the 30-over cup contest and set up an away match against Ross County on July 3.
Thomas said: “There are only five senior league teams this year, including ourselves.
“We want to be right up there challenging for the league – it is definitely our aim to try and win the title.
“We want to try and do well in the other competitions too, starting with the Senior Cup against Buckie this weekend. We will hope to progress to face Ross County in the next round, while we have also got the T20 competition which is always quite a good fun day.
“This year we are also entering the Scottish Challenge Cup, a national competition played on a Sunday. We got a bye through the first round so we will face Stenhousemuir on June 20 after they defeated Aberdeen Grammar.
“That will be a good chance for us to test ourselves against teams we have not played before, and play at different grounds.”
Thomas is pleased with his side’s preparations for the new campaign, adding: “We have a strong squad, with a lot of good juniors coming through and a couple of new players this season too.
“We are all looking forward to getting started – it’s what everyone has been wanting for quite a long time now. We only played friendlies last year so we have been missing it for the last year and a half or so.”
Elgin have home advantage against Nairn County, with an away match against Forres St Lawrence awaiting the winners.
Captain Jordan McWilliam is hopeful the Cooper Park outfit are well placed for the new campaign, and he said: “We are excited to get back playing again. We are looking good this year, we have struggled for senior players in the last couple of years and used a lot of our younger players.
“We have had 60-plus at some of our junior coaching sessions, so it’s a bonus to see some of the younger guys coming in.
“We are aiming for a mid-table finish this year, hopefully we can get off to a good start, but it will be a tough cup match against Nairn, as it always is against them.”