The 2020 season started well for Woodvale who won both their opening fixtures against Lisburn and Carrick in what was a return to the top flight after a nine year absence.

In the end though those were their only wins, and they finished sixth in the table with only Lisburn and Carrick below them.

But it will be a much strengthened Woodvale side that new skipper Stephen Bunting leads onto the field in 2021, after a winter that saw them make three significant signings.

First to make the move to Ballygomartin Road was Waringstown’s James Hall where his total of 11884 runs across eighteen seasons makes him their all-time leading run-scorer, ahead of nearest rivals Garfield Harrison and Ivan Anderson.

James Hall

Still only 32 James has a good few years left in him and he will be a formidable presence at the top of the order, and if he was third in the off-spin department behind Kyle McCallan and Lee Nelson, he may be skipper Bunting’s first choice when the shine is off the ball.

Another newcomer in the all-rounder category is Aditya Adey who has signed from North Down, a seamer who also opened the batting at the Green for most of the shortened 2020 season, Aditya has played for the Emerging Knights.

But the big fish is, of course, Ruhan Pretorius, released by North Down coming up to the end of the year.

Having played at Waringstown and then for four seasons at North Down he was keen to stay in the province and Woodvale offered that lifeline.

Ruhan got a late call up for the recent Wolves tour to Bangladesh scoring 90 in his first innings there.

Ruhan Pretorius

With Harry Warke, Jack Burton and Skipper Bunting himself the top six has a solid look to it.

Stephen Bunting’s left-arm pace has troubled the best batsmen, add Pretorius, Adey, Pavan Karthik and Ferhan Saeed and the seam department is well covered.

New faces and players keen to impress should be good news for the faithful followers of Woodvale as cricket slowly finds its was back to normality.