SKIPPER Stu Parkin is targeting a fast start to the summer as perennial slow starters Kendal hit the road on Saturday for the season’s opener with Northern League new boys Penrith.

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.

It took until June for their first victory of 2013 against Blackpool, before an upturn in the latter stages of the summer mirrored previous campaigns.

And with Parkin bidding for Kendal to be in the mix for honours when the season reaches its business end, the 33-year-old knows a repeat showing could be detrimental to their aims.

“We tend to start slowly every summer and it’s something we’ve always seemed to struggle with,” he said.

“We have found ourselves way behind the leaders mid-season which leaves us with far too much to do at the back end of the campaign.

“But the players know we need a good start and that we cannot afford to be 30 or 40 points behind the leaders after four or five games as it’s very difficult to claw that back.

“We need to be there or thereabouts halfway through the season and getting off to a good start will be paramount to our attempts to finish in the top four.

“As long as we’re in touching distance around the halfway stage we should be able to finish well as that’s something we’ve always done. It’s just the starts which have been problematic.”

Top-order runs were a further problem for Kendal last summer with only veteran batsman Terry Hunte making consistent headway – averaging 35.41 from 16 innings.

But after former New Zealand Test batsman Jamie How arrived in the country on Wednesday morning, Parkin hopes big scores can become the norm rather than the exception.

“Jamie coming in brings strength and stability to our batting order which we obviously lacked last year,” he added.

“The batting is one thing we know needs improving as generally speaking the bowling tends to take care of itself.

“We’re away at Penrith on Saturday which is a bit of an unknown quantity as they are new to the league and look to have signed some decent players.

“But again, the lads know the importance of starting well with the bat and setting the tone for the season – it’s imperative we either set a decent total or produce a well-organised chase.”

Fixtures: April 19 – Penrith (A), April 26 – Preston (H), May 05 – Morecambe (H), May 10 – Darwen (A), May 17 – Leyland (H), May 24 – Blackpool (A), May 26 – Netherfield (H), May 31 – Barrow (A), June 07 – Chorley (A), June 14 – Fleetwood (A), June 15 – Lancashire Colts (H), June 21 – Lancaster (A), June 28 – St. Annes (H), June 29 – Penrith (H), July 05 – Preston (A), July 19 – Morecambe (A), July 26 – Darwen (H), Aug 02 – Leyland (A), Aug 09 – Blackpool (H), Aug 16 – Barrow (H), Aug 23 – Chorley (H), Aug 25 – Netherfield (A), Aug 30 – Fleetwood (H), Sep 06 – Lancaster (H), Sep 13 – St. Annes (A)