So how will the Bar do this season? Who in my opinion is going to have a great year and who will be the ones to look out for this summer?

I, will be answering those and many more questions over the season but here is my version on just how well all elevens are set to do. Who are going to be the match winners and just who the dangers are on what is hopefully going to another great season for the Cricket Club.

1st XI

After romping home with the league title and a record number of points, the league will be a great deal harder this time around with some highly talented teams and some well known cricketers of both past and present.

However after a summer of good recruitment, we feel we are far, far better placed to make a decent fist of it than back in 2004 when in truth the boys were an aging team and the club relied on its own and in the space of 5 years club cricket in the main has changed.

For the first time Hertfordshire will have three sides competing in the top flight, (in truth its four as Tring are technically in the county) and its imperative that all have good seasons and then Herts as a county will provide half of the leagues 10 sides in 2010 and the league which has in many eyes been a little biased towards its Western cousins will have to come to a stop.

As for recruitment Bar and in particular Dave Lawrence and first team skipper Len Cooper have been busy and have again come up with some fine young cricketers, which will boost the club. Firstly, current squad member of Essex CCC Tim Phillips has joined. Tim's availability is of course subject to his employers but he will be a massive plus if and when he is available to play. Next in was ex-Stevenage and Waltham all-rounder Tanweer Sikandar who has a top record. Tanweer has scored 230 runs in his last three innings against the Bar so his stats show he is a top player.

Added to that the signing of Shaftab Khalid who arrives having been recently released by Worcestershire. He is an off-spinner who puts bat to ball will add even more variation to our attack. Also coming in sees ex-Gidea Park & Romford keeper Chris Swainland will boost an already talented and committed group of players, again led by Len Cooper. Chris has represented Essex 2's for a good number of years as well as now the Oxford UCCE team. Hopes are still high that one other player can be added to the squad that steps out at Farnham Royal on May 9.

On the outs side we have sadly lost Lanka de Silva who has accepted the head coaching position of his beloved Tamil Union. Lanka scored 650 runs last season and kept wicket and that will mean a big loss, but this should be eased by the new signings coming into the club. Nick Walker has also exited stage left to join Welwyn Garden City which was shall we say more than a little disappointing. Nick contributed massively to our success last season with both wickets and runs, however throughout our cup runs he wasn't available and we beat far better sides in the cups last season than we faced in any league cricket that year, so the rest of the boys should take great heart from that. However Nick came into the club with the sole purpose to get us promoted and that's exactly what was achieved. I for one will miss his ability but as a club we move onwards and upwards. Chris Stead has also left to re join Cockfosters.

The standard where the 1s are now is as high as we can possibly go. The idea now is to kick on and compete at the top level and not look to just survive. We will never come into a league better prepared as we have a good, talented, young and hungry group of players who will come in brimming with confidence. However every week will be a hard test with even the supposed sides will be brimming with County Academy players and Minor County players. We will have three local games which will certainly break up the monotonous trips on the M40.

Added to that we have the delights of meeting old foes Welwyn Garden City in what are bound to be two extremely competitive encounters. If the game in the County Cup is anything to go by then they will be fine games to witness.

We will also be in Herts Cup competition where again we will be looking to progress towards the latter stages and hopefully rekindle memories of our victory in 2006. After the disbanding of the Evening Standard, of which we reached the last 8 after being disposed of by Sunbury in a rain affected match, we will be looking to have a pre-longed run in the National where if we get through the first round we have a run of home matches, so no excuse for poor availability.

There is also a National 20/Twenty competition where we are expected to be drawn in with 7 localish sides with the winners going through to a knockout competition with the last 4 ending in an all-dayer on Sky Sports and a trip to a First Class ground, more likely Cardiff and the now test match SWALEC arena.

The 2009 season will be a hard one, but if we do well and accomplish what we intend it will be an extremely enjoyable one.

Freds Prediction Comfortably survive County Cup Winners

2nd XI

Last season ended up a better year than the one previous for Greg Hodge's chargers, although when the head had diminished from the first pint of the winter, the sides Greg had at his disposal it could have been so much better.

The batting severely let Gregs ambitions down, this despite the finest 1st wicket stand the second eleven has ever witnessed 219 unbeaten against Northchurch between 17 year old Tom Pett and the leading run scorer in the clubs history, Mike Palmer. However, moves have been made and the club will be the better for the return of Ollie Coughlan and wicketkeeper batsman Paul Martin. This will then make Gregs side, again on paper, have a really strong look about it.

The bowling will again have the usual look to it. Greg and Charlie Hodge will probably take the new ball and then the all-round talents of Mark Taylor and the off-spin of Luke Owers will be expected to bowl a lot of overs. There could well be the chance for young of the promising youngsters coming to the fore and in Tom Rowlands and Alex Whitehouse there are two who have a great chance.

There are now six second eleven sides in the division now and as the club progresses hopes will be extremely high of another good season and one better than the previous. If the boys can aim to finish top of the 2nd XI clubs, that would be a great start as Radlett and Welwyn will be strong and Knebworth are always there or thereabouts. In the past that wont be far off the top 3 of the table. The challenge will no doubt come from the relegated Reed but with a good run there is no reason why the boys cant be up in the promotion shake-up come the end of August.

For my money the division doesn't look overly impressive and there is no one single team that will run away with it. So with a good start you never know.

Freds Prediction 4th

3rd XI

The 3s see a change at the helm after Neil Raisborough finally hung up his captaincy hat. The Lord has been at the club for donkeys years and has been as good a club man as there could be. Whether Neil will carry on playing I am not sure. However if he does I am positive new skipper Ben Scarisbrick will appreciate his wisdom over the season.

Ben's appointment hopefully sparks a new enthusiasm for the boys to try and get a younger element into the team. The 3s still play a high level of cricket, Division 6. They are one of only 4 3rd XI sides in the league which shows that they are going to find it tough. If you add into the equation there 4 1st XI's into the bargain shows the odds are always stacked against them. Ware for instance finished just outside the promotion places has recently lost their star man, who has joined Sawbridgeworth some seven divisions up the tree.

On the batting front, John Lewis, never knowingly short of runs, will again be expecting another profitable year on arguably the best wicket in the division. Aided with Rob Daley who keeps scoring runs year in year out, things look more than okay but it's the bowling the boys will be quietly confident.

Tom Rowlands and Alex Whitehouse who I fleetingly mentioned earlier will be expected to take giant strides. Tom in particular played in numerous first eleven matches last summer, some in the Evening Standard run and wasn't afraid to put his hand up and give it his best. Michael John and Rupert Pyrah are fine characters to learn from and these two young fellas have a great chance of taking a lot of wickets and giving the 2s skipper some headaches when it comes to selection.

However with the lack of third elevens and another strong batch of first elevens, I see a year of transition. For Ben it will be a hard introduction but one he is more than capable of handling and I can see the boys surprising a few and having a far better time of it than last time out

Freds Prediction 9th

4th XI

The old promotion genius Paul Cheeko Kennedy takes over the reigns from Bertie Anderson in the 4s and hopes will again be high of another decent campaign.

Despite finishing in the bottom half of the league, that was coupled with the fact that Bertie got married and missed a great deal of the season. Cheeks does an amazing job down the school and with a few new players, the boys will be better for it.

Again it will be another platform for the likes of Will Daley, who I hope plays another season and John Scutt to be the bedrock of the runs for the boys. There should also be valuable contributions from Adam Titmuss and John Erroll which should put some decent totals on the board. Cheeks will also hopefully be buoyed with the addition of a couple of new additions from Old Albanian who are having issues with how their club are being run.

Bowling sides out proved to be a drama last season but the boys are another year older and hopefully will be better for the experience of last season. Young Luke Watling is certainly one to watch out for as he impressed in a 1st XI cup tie against Enfield where he took 2 for 20 odd from 6 overs.

I can see Cheeko's geezers finishing a comfortable mid-table and hopefully the younger element of the team progressing nicely and again putting pressure on those in the 3s.

Freds Prediction 7th

5th XI

Last year was a bit of a steep learning curve for dear old Colin Titmuss but he stuck to it admirably and every player who played under him last season would have no doubt enjoyed the games, which at the end of the day is what it's all about.

Despite being relegated, Division 13 should give Colins boys a great chance of winning more games this time around and his team would certainly have been boosted by the infamous âPub Cricket which will hopefully improve on his player base.

The whole point of the 5s is to bring new players in who fancy a game and a great start for the younger elements of the colts to dip their toes into mens cricket. Whether Colin is available for the season is debatable as heââ‚s been vehemently trying to gain a place on Big Brother but hopefully there are 12 or so slightly more insane characters than dear old Colin so he can lead his merry men.

I reckon with the bigger pool of players, the days of scrabbling round for players in the pubs and clubs of Potters Bar at 11am Saturday morning would have gone and the boys can enjoy a far better year and finish comfortably in the top half.
Freds Prediction 9th

So heres to a great summer, hopefully one that’s better than the weather of last season but most importantly a summer of enjoyment for all members and visitors that come to the club. Lets not forget that whilst the matches and results are important, its the social side off the park that we all look forward to and enjoy - long may that continue.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings, I sincerely hope each and every player does better than they did last term and the club as a whole can keep improving and continue to ram it down peoples throats who constantly doubt their ability.

Aka Mark Shepherd