Heriot's seek instant return to top flight

HERIOT'S, relegated from last year's Premiership, will be seeking to bounce back at the first time of asking this season.

Captained again by shrewd Steve Knox, the Goldenacre men are strengthened by the return from Greenock of Sean Weeraratna as player-coach, and the acquisition of Brisbane-based Adam Lockhart-Krause, also ex-Greenock, and overseas amateur Mathew Thomas. They travel to Scroggie Park to face a Falkland side still buoyant from a resounding Division 2 Championship win. Ryan Hepburn's side will be looking to newly recruited Sri Lankan duo Harsha Cooray and Nishika de Silva to complement another productive summer from Michael Cachia in this their 150th anniversary season.

Ayr, captained by Mark Renny, can also be expected to set the early pace, bolstered by the return of prolific former Kiwi Test batsman Michael Papps, third-highest run-scorer in the 2009 SNCL Premiership, and fresh from 104 and 180 for Canterbury against Auckland in the Plunkett Shield. The New Cambusdoon men are further strengthened by the arrivals of Daniel Fleming, a left-arm seamer from Christchurch, and top-order batter Alan Davidson from Dumfries. They journey confidently to Kirkhill to face a very youthful Penicuik side captained by Keith Morton, debilitated by the departures of pro Mohammed Ramzan and Anju Aslam and the latest retiral of stalwart Willie Morton, but encouraged by the arrival from Sydney of all-rounder Richard Partington.

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Ambitious Arbroath United, despite the loss of Saltires protg Matthew Parker to Forfarshire, should be strong title contenders too, and host enigmatic Drumpellier, while Stirling County are also strongly touted as they welcome Stenhousemuir. Aspiring Poloc will field new signings Fraser Quarterman and Carl Huyser at Shawholm against a Stoneywood-Dyce team expected to rely heavily on Saltires all-rounder Jan Stander.