The new North West cricket season gets under way this coming Saturday and there are several mouth-watering games in the Premier Division to mark the start of another summer.

Match of the Day could easily be at Beechgrove where champions Bready begin the defence of their title against this year's favourites, Brigade.

The visitors lost Irish International bowler Craig Young to North Down during the winter and will also be without Ryan Barr who has joined Glendermott.
David Scanlon has however been able to bring in opening batsman Marcus Poskitt from Coleraine and the young Warriors player should make a difference to Bready's top order.

The Magheramason team's success in 2018 was built on a really strong and varied bowling attack, so much will depend on how well they cope without Young and Barr now.

Irosh Samarasooriya was another pivotal figure in that success twelve months ago and the champions will be delighted that the Sri Lankan has returned again this year.

Scanlon's men won't be unduly worried about a trip to the Limavady Road first up either; their record there has been reasonably good in recent years. Andy Britton's side however have recruited well themselves in the close season, and they look a threat to all this time around.

The Waterside club won both of the domestic cup competitions last season and have kept pretty much the same squad together this time, with a couple of new faces thrown in for good measure.

Ross Allen comes in from Eglinton after an excellent season in Australia, and the Warriors all-rounder should have conditions to suit at his new home. The left-hander will be joined at Beechgrove by former Strabane and Railway Union player Rachit Gaur.

Gaur had an excellent season with the Red Caps last year and he will add quality to both the batting and bowling department at Brigade.

Britton, Johnny Thompson, David Barr, Gareth McKeegan, Johnny Robinson, Iftikhar Hussain and Kyle Magee will all remain at Beechgrove this season; the only doubt for them being the availability throughout the summer of top order batsman Niall McDonnell.

This is a cracking game to get the season up and running and is likely to draw a large crowd to the Limavady Road venue.

Donemana, denied a seventh straight senior cup win and deposed of their league title last time, will be out to set the record straight over the next 20 weeks.

Andrew Riddles is the new skipper at the Holm and the former Limavady and Ardmore player is joined by Pakistani Bilawal Iqbal, the Tyrone club's choice of overseas professional for 2019.

Iqbal is a fast bowling all-rounder, Donemana's favoured option over the last number of years, and if his stats are anything to go by he could prove a real hit in his new surroundings.

The former champions welcome newly-promoted Glendermott 'up the brae' on Saturday- a tough start for Gordon Montgomery's side.

To be fair to the Rectory outfit they have recruited well for their return to the top flight after a 5-year absence. Keshan Wijerathne is their new Sri Lankan 'pro' and he is another player with a very decent pedigree.

Gareth Burns and Ryan Barr come in to provide options to the attack while the club have this week added former Drummond skipper Steve Moore to their panel after his remarkable fitness drive over the winter.

Gordon and David Cooke remain on Bonds Street, along with another sibling, Ian, and it could now be a real family affair after Gordon's son, Curtis also joined the club.

Some good players in there, that's for sure, but they'll do well to take the points on Saturday.

Another of the Union's former champions, Coleraine, are probably a side in transition this year. With opening batsman Poskitt having joined Bready, the Bannsiders' batting looks a little vulnerable at this point.

Graham Hume is back as overseas professional, and the South African will be a welcome sight for the club this summer.

New skipper Stephen Hutchinson will be without Rishi and Tim Chopra for most if not all of the season and work commitments could mean Scott Campbell missing several games as well.

Coleraine entertain Ballyspallen this weekend, and the Roe Valley side are another to have made several changes in personnel.

South African keeper/batsman Brendan Louw replaces Darnell McCallum at Bridge Park, while Adam McDaid comes in too. The former Limavady and Drummond batsman has immediately been handed the captain's armband.

There is no doubting McDaid's quality with the bat and he has been training throughout the winter with the North West Warriors however this represents a big challenge for him personally.

The Kennedy boys, Graham and Stephen as well as the Averills- Mark and Craig will again have a leading role to play at the club. Kyle Morrow is another Drummond player, and maybe not the last, to join up for the new season.

It's a difficult game to call first up, and much could depend on what type of side the hosts are able to put out on Saturday.

The final game of this weekend's quartet of Premiership matches sees Eglinton travel to Strabane Park. Both clubs have lost players during the winter however things may not be as bad in either camp as may have been first thought.

Chathura Peiris returns as overseas player for the Red Caps who have lost Rachit Gaur to Brigade.

On the flip side for the visitors, Kevin Gallagher has returned from his spell in Australia, and the club are hoping to make one or two other additions in the days leading up to the start of the campaign.

Aaron Gillespie wintered well down under and once again plenty will be expected of him and his uncle Peter if Strabane are to stay competitive.

Keeping hold of Stuart Thompson was a major boost for the villagers and the fact that Jamie and Andy Millar have stayed put doesn't harm them either.

Mike Erlank is back as overseas player as well so there's a stability there, despite the obvious drawback of losing Ross Allen, that maybe wasn't expected.

This is a huge game for both sides, even so early in the season and there is precious little to separate them.

Matches start at 1pm unless announced otherwise. The full list of Premiership fixtures is-

Brigade v Bready
Donemana v Glendermott
Coleraine v Ballyspallen
Strabane v Eglinton (postponed due to bereavement)