BEAMINSTER captain Ross Baker is relishing the prospect of going toe-to-toe with familiar foes Witchampton when their County Division Two season begins on Saturday (1.30pm).

Baker’s men twice lost to the Witches in the 2018 campaign, most recently on the penultimate day of the season when Beaminster succumbed to a heavy eight-wicket defeat.

Beaminster will be looking to make amends in their curtain raiser but, when speaking to the Bridport News, Baker was cautious of the Witches’ armoury.

He said: “They’ve got quite a lot of strength in depth, bat deep and seem to have plenty of options with the ball as well.

“We’ve had some good battles with them over the years – they always seem to be in our division. We know plenty about them and we’ll give it our best shot.

“We’re in quite a strong position anyway because we’ve got a few players back this season who didn’t play the last.

“It’s good to play a strong side at the start and get them out of the way early. It’s going to be difficult because we’ve got a few senior players missing but it’s a good opportunity for our homegrown players to play first-team cricket.

“That’s been our policy for the last few years to put in five or six players from the youth team and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

Beaminster are boosted by the arrival of South African paceman Daniel Swift, who has already excelled during the winter.

Baker said: “He’s been very impressive since he arrived. He’s trained well. We had a pre-season friendly at Broadwindsor and he impressed everybody with his bowling – he also hit 73 not out.

“He’ll be a big asset for us. He’s pretty quick but it’s difficult on a slow surface – in the nets he’s been very quick so we’re looking forward to seeing him bowl.”

Baker also revealed pre-season preparations have been stronger than ever as the club utilises its new nets.

He said: “Everyone’s been quite keen to use the facilities and also having Daniel there for coaching means the young players have trained well.

“We’ve had a lot higher number for training compared to the last couple of years, so that’s pretty encouraging.”

Baker will miss out due to a wedding, so Chris Park will instead skipper the side. All-rounders Simon Jones and Rich Runyard are absent, as is Leo Gurd.

Beaminster: Swift, W Moss, A Moss, Park, Hollely, Keenan, Murley, Phillips, James, O Bareham, S Bareham