BRAINTREE Cricket Club captain Will Jackson believes his team are in good shape as they head into another season in the top flight of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship.

A visit by last year’s division one runners-up Wivenhoe will kick-start Braintree’s season at Panfield Lane on Saturday and the hosts will head into the campaign with confidence after strengthening their squad and having an encouraging pre-season.

Those preparations included the club winning the league and cup double in the Braintree and District Indoor League as they pipped local rivals Witham to both titles and Jackson said he is excited about the start of the outdoor season.

He said: “I think we are pretty well fixed.

“We had a friendly against T Rippon premier side High Roding last weekend and we batted really well, getting past 300 and everyone got starts with good time in the middle.

“It was a good fielding performance as well and although we need to work on the bowling as we went both sides of the wicket and got a bit punished, there were a lot more positives than negatives.

“I’m pretty excited for the season.

“I think the target has to be just to maintain our status in division one and have some steady development.

“We are still getting used to being in division one and I don’t want to say that we’ll be challenging at the very top.

“I think we are still building and you need more than one year in division one to get used to the quality that is there and get yourself fully established, but we will be looking for progression.”

Jackson said that the core of last year’s first-team squad had stayed together, although spinner Barry Stephens was set to miss the start of the season after having a knee operation over the winter and there have been a couple of additions.

The club have added former South Woodford player Louis Cant to their line-up and with Australian Quincy Titterton returning Down Under, Braintree’s overseas player will be New Zealander Mason Hughes this year.

The skipper added: “Mason has come in and he showed in the friendly against High Roding that he’s a big-hitting top order batsman, which is something that we needed.

“He smashed it around with a couple of huge sixes, so I think he’ll go well and he’s also a seam bowler. We’re also pleased to have Louis Cant on board as he’s moved to the area.

“He’s a batting all-rounder who bowls off-spin and I think he’ll really compliment what we have.”