NEW Dorchester captain Gautham Rajendar is relishing the changes to the Wessex Internet Dorset League.

Dorchester begin their Premier One season at home to Poole Town tomorrow (12.30pm) with a raft of alterations to the format.

This season, Dorset will adopt ECB Premier status, meaning teams in the restructured Premier One and Premier Two will play three different formats.

Match weeks one to five and 14 to 18 will be played in coloured clothing with pink balls in 50-over duration.

READ MORE: 2024 Wessex Internet Dorset League in major shake-up

Weeks six to eight are comprised of T20 cricket, with weeks nine to 13 featuring 100-over cricket played with the traditional red ball in which teams can win, lose or draw.

Promotion and relegation in Premier One and Two will not take place this season, with relegation only beginning in County Division One.

Dorchester have prepared by signing rising star Will Maltby from Martinstown and his former teammate Jenson Stewart, while retaining Kiwi overseas all-rounder Harry Jones. Stepping up to vice-captain is Jamie Barrett.

Speaking to Echosport, Rajendar said: “It will take some getting used to but pink balls should be fun.

“At the end of the day, the changes to the formats make the league more competitive so we’re expecting a lot more close games than previous seasons.”

On taking the captaincy from Jon Legg, Rajendar added: “I’m quite lucky to have some good people in the changing room and at the club, so I’m feeling confident about the upcoming season.

“There have been some changes during the winter and we’re excited to see how Will and Jenson fare in their debut seasons for Dorchester.”

Dorchester field four teams this season, with the seconds at Puddletown and the thirds and fourths away and home respectively to Swanage Fourths and Compton House Seconds in Division Six.

Dorchester: Belt, Hill, Rajendar, Jones, Owens, J Barrett, Stewart, Ryall, Nobbs, Peach, Maltby.

Also in Premier One, Bere Regis tackle Sherborne tomorrow (12.30pm) and are aiming to hit the ground running as the county enters a new era of cricket.

Bere have made one major signing for the 2024 season, securing experienced batter Eral Anderson from Dorchester.

Skipper Brian Keegan said: “We won one game about half an hour before it belted down, but I think it’s the same for everybody. You just want more pre-season and more practice outdoors.

“You can’t do much about the weather, unfortunately.”

He added: “All the sides in our division have strengthened, so I don’t think there’s going to be any easy games.

“We’ve been striving for consistency and that’s what we need to find from somewhere.

“We’re trying to put things in place and it painted a picture last year that we didn’t lose to anyone above us, yet we still ended up fourth.”

Dorset Echo: Bere Regis have opted for a green and yellow kit in 50 and 20-over formatsBere Regis have opted for a green and yellow kit in 50 and 20-over formats (Image: BERE REGIS CC)

Bere Regis Seconds open their Division Two season at home to Sherborne Seconds tomorrow (1pm).

Bere: Anderson, Rich Cole, S Goodhew, T Goodhew, Munnings, Murphy, J Keegan, Robertson, Rogerson, Walbridge, B Keegan.

Main sponsor: Booth Gadenne.

First XI match ball sponsor: GMS Plumbing and Heating Supplies.

Second XI match ball sponsor: Simon Munnings Planning Dorset.

In Premier Two, Martinstown will also play three different formats but stick with traditional white clothing.

Charlie Durant’s men open their 50-over campaign at home to Christchurch tomorrow (12.30pm).

“It’s a strange situation to be in, not being in the top division and knowing if you come in the top two you can’t go anywhere,” he said.

“We’ll give it a shot and enjoy our season as best as we can.

“It’s nice to be at home, we’ll look to bed ourselves into the season as best as we can. Hopefully the ground will be all right given the weather we’ve had.”

All-rounder Will Harris is set to make his first-team debut for Town.

Martinstown Seconds begin at Christchurch Seconds in Division Four tomorrow (1pm).

Martinstown: Nichols, Lewis, S Williams, R Gerety, F Williams, Kane, Coombs, Durant, Harris, Rimmer, J Gerety.

In the division below, Weymouth commence at home to Marnhull tomorrow (1pm).

However, the Seasiders’ Redlands pitch has been waterlogged by heavy recent rain and Lloyd Beals’ men may need to switch venues, given league permission.

Beals is also unconcerned about a higher level of opposition after the club’s title-winning season in 2023.

“I don’t care who we play and when we play them,” he said.

“We’ll worry about ourselves and find a way of batting teams out of the game or getting all 10 wickets as quickly as possible.”

Weymouth have signed all-rounder Russ Haylock and strong availability has given Beals a selection headache this week.

“Yeah, it was very tough,” he added: “I had about 15 different teams and at one point everyone was left out, even myself!

“If I’m honest, the entire second team can have a role in the first team and not just make up numbers.

“We’re in a good place as one large squad. The aims are to take maximum points from every game.”

Weymouth Seconds, who won Division Five last season, open their Division Four campaign at Marnhull Seconds tomorrow (1pm).

Weymouth: England, Gregory, Walton, Womble, Haylock, Wills, Webb, Beals, Hoyes, Mitchell, Jose.

Weymouth main sponsor: GRBS.

Matchday sponsor: Active Mobility.

Weymouth’s near rivals and divisional counterparts Portland Red Triangle have had a busier pre-season than most, managing to complete three matches despite the frequent rain.

Matt Randell’s men entertain Stalbridge at Reforne in their curtain-raiser tomorrow (1pm).

Randell said: “We’ve had a good pre-season, got three games in which is probably more than some clubs with the weather.

“We managed to win two and just fell short against Martinstown by three runs, so that was a good test. Everyone’s excited for the season.”

On Stalbridge, he added: “They’re a good side. They’ve been bringing some youngsters through for the last few years.

“Whether we face a full-strength side early season, you never know.”

Portland’s second string visit Stalbridge Development in Division Five tomorrow (1pm).

Portland: Laws, M Barrett, D Adkins, Randell, J Adkins, Munro, Price, Samuel, Townley, Potts, L Adkins.

Elsewhere, Puddletown find themselves in Division Two amid the league reshuffle and back at their Puddletown Rec home after playing at Plush in Division One to meet higher-league requirements.

There is also a change in skipper as Adam Barrett retakes the captaincy from Ryan Norman.

Puddletown beat a mixed Weymouth side last weekend in what has been a shorter-than-usual preparation.

Barrett’s men host neighbours Dorchester Seconds in a tasty derby on the opening day tomorrow (1pm).

Barrett said: “With the recent weather being wet we have not had the perfect preparations. We had a good game against Weymouth last weekend to blow off the cobwebs.

"We start the season with a tough match against Dorchester. I'm not really sure what to expect from them, but I'm sure we will be in for a tough match.

"We are missing a couple of key players to start the season, but the team should only get stronger as people return from university."

Puddletown Seconds are in action at Wareham in their first Division Five match tomorrow (1pm).

Puddletown: Barrett, Knight, Ry Norman, Re Norman, Snow, Phillips, Edwards, Clarke, J Morris, Eccleson, AN Other.