DORCHESTER begin their quest for a hat-trick of titles away to rivals Wimborne in the Dorset Funeral Plan Premier League tomorrow (1pm).

James Dunham’s men claimed victory in 2019 – the last full season to be completed – following up with silverware in the coronavirus-shortened Thank You NHS League in 2020.

While Dunham is currently resting a knee injury, vice-captain Nick Roe will oversee off-field duties and Dan Belt the on-field responsibilities at the Leaze.

Dorchester warmed up for the season with a deliberately difficult pre-season campaign, hosting Southern League giants Bournemouth in an 89-run loss.

Poole Town, featuring Dorset star Brad Currie, then defeated Dorchester in the postponed Dorset T20 Cup final.

And Roe believes a ruthless pre-season will pay dividends on the eve of the new league term.

He told Echosport: “We like to have tough games, it’s something we’re going to look to do more of in the future. Everyone’s dusted off the cobwebs, so we’re all ready to go.

“We’re very much looking at ourselves. Wimborne have lost a couple (of players) in the last few years and have a new skipper Harry Prince.

“They’ll have a lot of energy and new ideas, but it’s more a case of focusing on us and executing our skills in what is a hugely exciting year for the club.

“We’ve got the two titles but that’s in the past. We need to focus on the job in hand, which is the next 18 weeks.”

Dorchester: Ryall, Owens, Carty, Anderson, Mitchem, Legg, J Caldwell, Belt, Richardson, Barrett, Roe.

READ MORE: Shroton pull out of Dorset Premier League

Elsewhere in the Premier tier, Martinstown make the short trip to Bere Regis (1pm) after a stunning pre-season.

Sam Kershaw’s men blasted 312-6 in a 165-run mauling of Weymouth, before plundering 399-4 against Tithe Barn one week later.

Town have also been boosted by coaching sessions led by experienced duo Dave Trotter and Steve Gerety.

Kershaw said: “We’ve had a really positive pre-season, the feeling around the clubs is really good. Credit to Trots and Gerety for what they’ve done.

“It’s credit to us for taking the information on board and trying to better ourselves.

“Everyone knows how we want to play, it’s all going really well. We’ve had runs and wickets coming from all round the team. We’re in a good place.

“It’s a different kettle of fish playing a league game, but we’re hoping to hit the ground running.”

Martinstown are without Ed Nichols (broken ankle) and Matt Camp.

Dorset Echo: Martinstown's Ed Nichols, left, misses out with a broken ankle Picture: FINNBARR WEBSTERMartinstown's Ed Nichols, left, misses out with a broken ankle Picture: FINNBARR WEBSTER

Bere Regis have added promising batsman Cameron Robertson to their ranks over the winter.

Bere skipper Brian Keegan said: “We’ve had a fairly good record against Martinstown in previous seasons but that counts for nothing going into the first game.

“I don’t know, because they’ve got a good youth setup, if any cricketers have progressed. We can only concentrate on ourselves. We’re under no illusions, it won’t be easy.

“We had a friendly against Swanage where we scored 250 and bowled them out for 90.

“We’ve got Cameron who’s going to be making debut. He played on Saturday against Swanage and hit a 50, so we’re giving him an opportunity.”

Bere: Keegan, Walbridge, Proffitt, M King, Rich Cole, Payne, Robertson, Griffiths, S Goodhew, T Goodhew, Murphy.

Martinstown: Kershaw, Gerety, W Maltby, T Pope, Williams, Andrews, Hill, Ja Stewart, Jo Stewart, Je Stewart, Durant.

Bere main sponsor: Booth Gadenne

Cattistock & Symene, who lost star batsman Jon Legg to Dorchester, embark on their first season in Dorset’s top tier with a daunting trip to Poole Town (1pm).

Meanwhile, the fixture list threw up a huge opening-day derby between Portland Red Triangle and Weymouth in County Division One.

Triangle have lost Kiwi seamer Sam Mihell after his two-year visa ended, but welcome back batsman Tim Forshaw.

Captain Matt Randell is relishing the match-up with rivals Weymouth.

“Both teams will be well up for it, it definitely got us excited for that first game and will be a really good way to start the year,” he said.

“We need to make sure we get the job done and play a full 45 overs of cricket, with bat or ball.

“Sometimes we drift off and we found last year that was our biggest issue. We would get on top of teams and not finish it off.”

Portland: Leake, Forshaw, Price, Randell, Theakstone, Laws, Whisker, D Adkins, J Adkins, M Barrett, Cameron.

Dorset Echo: Kiwi seamer Sam Mihell, right, will not return to Portland Picture: GRAHAM HUNTKiwi seamer Sam Mihell, right, will not return to Portland Picture: GRAHAM HUNT

Weymouth captain Harry Mitchell is encouraged going into the derby by solid performances in training despite a light pre-season.

He said: “The first game always has its challenges. Our preparation has gone OK, it could’ve gone better with more games.

“But training has been the best in a couple of years. We would maybe like to get into the season before a big game like this.

“The boys are looking forward to it and we have a strong side – we don’t normally have that luxury early on.

“I’m expecting Portland to be strong and it’s a derby so everyone will be up for it.”

Weymouth will make a late call on team selection before travelling to Reforne (1.30pm).

Weymouth match ball sponsor: Advoco Accountants

Puddletown, newly promoted after Shillingstone’s voluntary relegation, start life in Division One tomorrow against Compton House at temporary home Plush (1.30pm).

Puddle captain Adam Barrett admitted his side face a difficult start.

He said: “I think Compton House is as tough a fixture as we could have had first up.

“They have finished fourth in the league in consecutive seasons so know the division well and obviously have some excellent players.”

Puddletown have secured the services of Swanage all-rounder Ryan Norman and his talented wicketkeeper son Regan, plus batsman Matt Porter.

Ryan Norman recorded an impressive 38 wickets in 2019 for the Swans.

Barrett added: “We are delighted that both Regan and Ryan have decided to join us this season, and I have no doubts that they will both be really important players for us.

“Ryan has been a proven star player at this level and above for a number of years now, so adding a player of his experience to the team is priceless.

“We also welcome Matt into the side who impressed last season in the Thank You NHS league, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

“The only notable absentees this weekend are Lucas Allen and Will Gage, who both miss out for personal reasons.”

Puddletown: Porter, Weir, Mitchell, Barrett, Eastment, Ry Norman, Snow, Re Norman, D Morris, J Morris, S Chaldecott

Match ball sponsor: Barry Knight Building and Maintenance

Beaminster host Witchampton in Division One (1.30pm).


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