It has been one of the busiest winters ever in the NCU. Here is the lowdown on who has gone where and the predictions for the new season.
CARRICKFERGUS: IN: Patrick Botha, Alan Armstrong, Robert Smith (Templepatrick). OUT: Indrajeet Kamtekar (Armagh). OVERSEAS: Botha (South Africa), Jamie Holmes (New Zealand). CAPTAIN: Iain Parkhill. LAST SEASON: Sixth. MAN TO WATCH: Alex Haggan. VERDICT: They ended up surviving with something to spare a year and should be better for the experience. Botha looks a canny overseas signing and Holmes will surely score big again.
CIVIL SERVICE NORTH: IN: Graeme McCarter (Coleraine), Alan Blain (Cliftonville), Dylan Agnew. OUT: Allen Coulter (CIYMS). OVERSEAS: Mansoor Amjad (Pakistan), Agnew (South Africa). CAPTAIN: Andrew Cowden. LAST SEASON: Fifth MAN TO WATCH: Jason van der Merwe. VERDICT: Without Nigel Jones, CSNI weren’t a genuine trophy-challenging team last summer, but they retained the ability to shock more fancied opponents. More of the same this season you would suspect.
CIYMS: IN: Stephen Chambers (Lurgan), Zach Rushe (CIYMS), Allen Coulter (CSNI), Justin Kemp. OUT: Trevor Britton, (Bonds Glen) Stephen Dunn (Ardmore), Adam Beattie, Aaron Johnston (both Cregagh), Nathan Burns (North Down), Rassie van der Dussen, James Cameron-Dow. Overseas: Kemp (South Africa). Captain: Nigel Jones. LAST SEASON: Challenge Cup and T20 Cup winners, Third. MAN TO WATCH: John Matchett. VERDICT: All change again at Belmont, with last summer’s trophy-winning team effectively broken up. The battle will be explosive but occasionally brittle but the seam bowling potentially unplayable in the right conditions.
DERRIGHY: IN: None. OUT: None. OVERSEAS: Kaushik Aphale. CAPTAIN: Craig Lewis. MAN TO WATCH: Lewis. 2015: Section One Champions. VERDICT: The hierarchy at Queensway have kept faith with the team that unexpectedly won promotion from Section One last summer. They are favourites to go back down, but you get the impression they will enjoy the ride, no matter how rough it gets.
INSTONIANS: IN: Juan Theron, Nathan Smith, Robert McKinley (Ballymena), OUT: Zach Rushe (CIYMS). Overseas: Theron (South Africa), Nathan Smith (Australia). CAPTAIN: Nikolai Smith. LAST SEASON: Fourth, Challenge Cup runners-up. MAN TO WATCH: McKinley. VERDICT: 2015 was a real disappointment, but the winter recruitment suggests they mean business. Should be be genuine contenders for all trophies.
LISBURN: IN: Cody Chetty, Steve Lazars (Ballymena), Nathan Waller. OUT: Darry Brown. OVERSEAS: Chetty (South Africa), Waller (Zimbabwe). CAPTAIN: Adam Berry. MAN TO WATCH: Lazars. LAST SEASON: Ninth. VERDICT: They flirted with relegation a year ago, but the signing of Lazars and potential involvement of Waller gives young captain Berry more quality to call upon. Should be good enough to survive again and maybe cause an upset or two.
NORTH DOWN: IN: Nathan Burns (CIYMS), Kris Lyness (Lurgan). OUT: Taimur Khan (Bangor), Andrew Sutherland (retired). OVERSEAS: Pieter Malan (South Africa), Jacob Mulder (Australia). CAPTAIN: Marty Moreland. MAN TO WATCH: Peter Davison. LAST SEASON: Runners-up. VERDICT: The surprise package of 2015, the departures of Taimur and Sutherland are unquestionably a blow. Capable of going all the way in a cup competition.
WARINGSTOWN: IN: Cobus Pienaar. OUT: Ruhan Pretorius. OVERSEAS: Pienaar (South Africa). CAPTAIN: Lee Nelson. MAN TO WATCH: James McCollum. LAST SEASON: Premier League champions, Irish Cup winners. VERDICT: The team to beat, the only change is in the overseas professional. The most powerful batting line-up in the NCU, the only question mark surrounds the seam bowling.