WITH winter nets in full swing, Kendal Cricket Club skipper Stu Parkin hopes a more settled outlook can prove the catalyst for a productive season on all fronts – and possibly a trophy.

Tipped to challenge for a first Northern League title since 1994, the Shap Road club failed to generate any real momentum last year and finished eighth in the league standings.

While stopping short of predicting a title charge this time around, Parkin fully expects his side to be in the mix for honours when the summer reaches its business end.

“I think you always have to aim high but I’m not going to say we will win the league although there is no reason why we shouldn’t be looking for a top four finish,” he said.

“With Chris (Miller) relinquishing the captaincy midway through last season it will be good to have a bit of stability from the off this year. Having Jamie How will help that too.

“A lot of people may put us down as favourites but I’m not so sure – we will have quite a young side.

“The aim is definitely a top four finish and that would suffice but who’s to say we can’t do something in the league cup or the twenty20.

“It would be nice to have a piece of silverware come the end of the season.”

Kendal endured a run shortage last summer especially with headline act Alex Doolan missing most of the season due to international commitments with Australia A.

Only Terry Hunte – who surpassed the 20,000 Northern League run milestone – made consistent headway in the top-order, with the veteran batsman averaging 35.14 from 16 innings.

Parkin hopes the signing of Jamie How will plug this particular gap, with the New Zealander’s star shining brightly at Shap Road after chalking up 1060 runs during his last visit in 2012.

“Jamie offers stability in the batting line-up,” added Parkin. “Last year we had sub pros and we never knew what we were going to get.

“The lads know Jamie and how he plays and Jamie knows them and I think it is a massive positive to have him in the side.

“Not only does he bring his own game to the party but he gives a lot of confidence to the team which in turn will benefit from his vast experience.

“It’s an all-round good appointment. He will be vice-captain and that allows me to lend on his vast knowledge as well.”

Also joining the Kendal ranks are former Preston and Carnforth all-rounder Ben Harrison and Burneside batsman Ryan Shepherd, while Ryan Nelson has joined Warton.

“Ben is a player who knows the league and having somebody with his level of experience will help us.

“Ryan Shepherd is a talented young lad who is keen to get on in cricket – just the type of player we’re after as we look towards the future.

“He wants to make the step up from Westmorland League cricket and while the Northern League will be a culture shock he is more than capable of succeeding.

“Ryan Nelson’s partner is due to give birth mid-season and he felt he couldn’t quite commit but will be back in 2015.

“I’m also in touch with Jack White who is over in New Zealand at the minute. I’m hearing rumours he might be heading to Penrith but I haven’t heard that from him.”