Brett Ernst is confident Bradshaw can maintain the type of form which saw them end last summer with a bang as they look to get up and running in 2019.

Captain Ernst’s side were slow out of the blocks this time last year, only to recover and win the Peter Stafford Trophy in September. 

On Sunday, their first competitive outing of this season, they beat Denton West from the GMCL by six wickets in the opening round of the ECB’s National Club Championship.

New signing Sam Sweeney, who played two one-day games for Northants between 2011 and 2013, was at the heart of the win.

He took three wickets with his seamers and hit five sixes in a powerful unbeaten 61 as the hosts chased 160 with significant comfort at the Rigby’s.

“I definitely feel we’re in a much better place now than we were 12 months ago,” said Ernst.

“We started quite slowly last year, and I’m hoping we can kick on because we were brilliant at the end of the season. 

“We have some real squad depth now. Sam comes in, having pro’d at Whalley. He bowls seamers and has pace. 

“We’ve signed Zaid Patel, a former junior, who picked up 46 wickets in the GMCL opening the bowling last year. He’s quick as well.

“We’ve retained Jack Shovelton, and Jordy Evans opened the bowling on Sunday. So our pace attack is strengthened. 

“I think our strength last year was our batting, and now I think we’re building an attack that gives us options. 

“Jordy Mason (leg-spinning vice captain) also went at two an over to the short boundary and was incredible. Young Ross Dickinson did a good job as well.

“Denton West are a good side who won the Lancashire Knockout a few years ago, but we executed our plans. We know and play our home ground really well.”

Bradshaw, who have also signed Indian batsman Ian Dev Singh Chauhan as their professional, have set up a second-round home tie with Cheshire side Hyde on May 12. 

Ernst continued: “We’re using the National Knockout as a bit of an opportunity competition. 

“Elliot Dargan batted nine last year, but he got 30 odd batting at three. 

“Rob Hardman and Nick Lester opened the batting and got 20-odd each. They didn’t play many games in the firsts last year, with Nick injured.

“There’s three blokes who can make a difference for us.

“It’s silverware, but it’s more about just winning games for us.” 

As Bradshaw bring the curtain down on life in the Bolton League this summer ahead of their GMCL move, Ernst is keen not to look too far ahead.

“The perfect summer would be to put down a stick for ourselves,” he explained.

“We’re known as being a bit of a quiet team to play against, but I want there to be more noise about us this year, a buzz. All the good teams have that. 

“If we do that and execute our game plans, we’ll be in more games than not. I know it’s a cliche, but the rest will take care of itself.”