A PIVOTAL season of cricket beckons when Worcestershire League sides start competitive action on Saturday.

The Birmingham League campaign begins the following weekend and sees clubs scrapping for places in a major revamp involving just two first XI divisions for 2019.

With teams dropping back to local level as a result for next year, county league cricket outfits will be striving to protect their status in divisions during 2018.

Relegated Worcester Nomads entertain Feckenham and Worcester host Pedmore in Division One on Saturday (both 1pm) with both pitches ready for action after a wet spring.

Teams finishing outside the top four are potentially under threat of going down.

Worcester’s new captain Scott Shepherd, 23, hopes for a better season with the bat to guide his team to a safe placing.

A two-time National Village Knockout winner with Woodhouse Grange in his native Yorkshire, Shepherd has settled in Worcestershire after studying at the University of Worcester and joined from Studley midway through last season.

Worcester have lost prolific seamer Chris Steele to Kidderminster but swooped for a string of signings from relegated Eastnor.

Shepherd, who is likely to bat at number three, said: “I’m excited about my first season as captain. There will be quite a few teams coming down next season which will make the league very strong.

“I think only the top three or four will stay up so that’s the aim. We will be missing players early on as some lads are still away at university.

“Personally, I’ve had a couple of seasons slightly out of form so I’m hoping to get more runs.”

The experienced Ben Schiffmann will also aim to keep Nomads in the higher places after just one season in Birmingham League Division Three.

Former Old Elizabethans and Rushwick player Steve Emson has joined the Bransford club while fellow all-rounder Harvey Groves and wicketkeeper-batsman Ollie Ranscombe are among the young players hoping to shine.

Skipper Schiffmann said: “We went into the Birmingham League with a fairly young team and it was a bit of a learning curve for some of them.

“I hope they’ll come out of it as better players and transfer some of that into the county league which is always competitive.

“I was disappointed last season. But we need to take it on the chin, almost forget about what happened and come out with all guns blazing.”


Division One: Chaddesley Corbett v Evesham; Colwall v Bewdley; Cookley v Stourport; Hagley v Burghill, Tillington & Weobley; Worcester v Pedmore; Worcester Nomads v Feckenham.

Division Two: Bredon v Bartestree & Lugwardine; Himbleton v Coombs Wood; Kempsey v Droitwich; Old Vigornians v Bromyard; Oldswinford & Stour Social v Belbroughton; Wormelow v Enville.

Division Three: Hanley Castle & Upton v Avoncroft; Harborne 3rds v Eastnor; Malvern v Five Ways Old Edwardians; Martley v Lye; Netherton v Alvechurch & Hopwood; Rushwick v Bromsgrove 3rds.

Division Four: Alveley v Hallow Taverners; Astwood Bank 3rds v Himley 3rds; Kidderminster 3rds v Claverley; Romsley & Hunnington v Stourbridge 3rds; Stourport 3rds v Halesowen 3rds; Tenbury v West Malvern.