CSNI captain James Kennedy says Irish international Gary Wilson has already had a massive impact following his permanent arrival at the club during the winter.
Wilson, who is Ireland’s Twenty20 captain and in the ODI squad to face England on Friday, joined the Stormont club on a full-time basis in the close season after more than a decade in the County game with Surrey and Derbyshire.
The 33-year-old has also been announced as skipper of the Northern Knights for the 2019 campaign, and Kennedy admits he is delighted to have someone of that stature back at the club.
“It’s obviously great for us as a club to have Gary back,” he said.
“He is a very important figure both on and off the pitch, and he has already had a huge role to play in training with the professionalism he brings. It’s been a very good addition.”
They will kick their 2019 Robinson Services Premier League season off against North Down on Saturday, who they beat twice last season including a 153-run triumph in the Challenge Cup quarter-final.
They went on to lose to Waringstown in the final of that competition but Kennedy feels his squad are in good shape to make another run at winning a trophy.
“When the season starts, every team is looking to win some silverware so it would be wrong to say we aren’t,” he added.
“Unfortunately not every team can win silverware, but we will hit the ground running and try to compete in every competition. We know we have a strong squad with a good blend of youth and experience.
“Hopefully we can get a bit more consistency this year, particularly in the Premier League and try to get up the league a bit.”
With the likes of CIYMS, Waringstown and North Down adding to what were already strong squads, Kennedy feels that the standard of cricket in the NCU will be of a very high standard.
“I think the strength of the Premier League is arguably as good as it has ever been,” he said.
“It could be the same teams challenging at the top come the end of the season, but ultimately there are no easy games in the league this year.
“Everybody has the personnel and capabilities of beating anyone on their day, so I think every team will have a major part to play.”