MAJID Haq couldn’t disguise his excitement and anticipation as he stepped up preparations for his return to Scottish top-flight league action.

The experienced internationalist spearheaded the promotion surge by RHC Lions - and they launch their campaign against champions Heriot’s at Goldenacre.

Haq said: “We have to kick on improve, but from what I’ve seen in the last year from the guys, they are more than capable of rising to the challenge.

“We have also recruited well to strengthened the squad further. “

Heriot’s have lost Scotland man Mark Watt, who is plying his trade as pro for Tynemouth, while seamer Adrian Neill has also moved south.

Haq added: “Of course they will miss Watty as he was their star all rounder with the most wicket runs.

“Losing Adrian is also a blow to them but they have a quality professional in Hayes van der Berg who is a very consistent performer.”

It has been a long a mightily frustrating winter for Arbroath.

Eight months have passed since Marc Petrie’s troops had the title snatched away by Heriot’s.

And the Lochlands men embark on their mission to grab back the glory.

They open their campaign on home turf against Stewart’s-Melville - and skipper Petrie can’t wait for the action to begin.

He said: “We’re massively looking forward to the new season and after a couple of very productive warm-up games, we feel well prepared.”

Arbroath have lost star stalwarts Brendon Ford and Elton Willemse, who have retired, however they have drafted in two overseas players.

Petrie explained: “Our pro is Shanuka Vithanawasam, a Sri Lankan all rounder, while the amateur is Bryce Allchin, an opening bowler from South Africa.”

Petrie will be without other front-liners for this afternoon’s tussle.

Fraser Burnett has work commitments, Ross McLean is visiting his girlfriend in Cambodia and Jack Waller is due to sit university exams.

The captain added: “I’m sure Stew-Mel will be well prepared and we must make sure we’re on top of our game right from the start.

“League positions from previous seasons mean nothing - we must start again.

“But we are confident in our ability and know it takes a lot for any team to beat us if we’re performing at our best.”

Grange’s big-name signing, former England Test bowler Ryan Sidebottom has not yet arrived in Edinburgh.

Their other recent recruit, Conor Shorten, is injured so won’t figure against his old side Aberdeenshire at Raeburn Place.

Forfarshire’s prime aim this term will be to find consistency, following last year’s roller-coaster existence.

They also launch their campaign at home, with Watsonians visiting Broughty Ferry.

Skipper Umair Mohammed stated: “We have signed Bill Kruip, who is a bowling all-rounder from the Valleys club in Brisbane.

“We are also delighted to have Scotland man Michael Leask at our disposal after his spell at Somerset.

“I am sure both players will bring special qualities.

New recruits are Bill Kruip from Valleys, Brisbane. Bowling all rounder. Michael Leask is back.

Shire appear to have a strong line-up on duty with Matty Parker, Craig Wallace, Chris Greaves and Brock Ditchmen all included.

Glenrothes, again led by Scotland hero Safyaan Sharif, open their account against Carlton at Gilvenbank.

The Fifers will be hoping he will reproduce the form that made him a leading light in the recent World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.