THE new West of England Cricket League (WEPL) season begins this weekend, with Ilminster, Chard and North Perrott preparing for action.

Of the three, Ilminster begin at the highest level - Premier 2 Bristol/Somerset - and begin with a tough home game against newly promoted Weston-super-Mare tomorrow.

Ilminster stalwart Craig Rice said: “We’ve kept pretty much all our squad from last year so we’re hopeful of challenging in and around the top four.

“It’s a really tough start - Weston will send a strong side and Bishopston are always tough to play against.

“We don’t have an overseas player this year but Louis Kraucamp has almost become our ‘resident’ overseas - he’s from South Africa but lives over here now and has been with us for the past seven years.

“We’ve added a couple of young players, initially to play in the 2nds, and we’ll again be hosting the Under-19 T20 nights which always prove popular.”

Ilminster are also hosting All Stars Cricket, aimed at children between the ages of five and eight, on Friday nights - contact the club for more details.

Chard, the oldest club in the region, kick off their WEPL Somerset campaign at home to Minehead tomorrow.

Spokesman James Fitzpatrick said: “We have a similar team to last year and we’re hoping to avoid the dogfight we were in last season.

“Last year Weston and North Perrott were dominant, but I think it will be a more competitive league this season.

“We can again call on our formidable spin duo Chris Scott and Jon Dalwood, and Nathan Johnson is a talented young all-rounder.

“There are also two exciting young talents in our 2nds, the Shazad brothers, who look to have bright futures.”

North Perrott were unfortunate to narrowly miss out on promotion from WEPL Somerset last year, pushing a strong Weston side all the way before finishing in second.

They are aiming to go one better this season and begin their 2018 campaign at home to newly-promoted Yeovil.