DAVE Snell, the Wiltshire Middleton Cup team manager, has named a squad of 31 players to represent the Moonrakers in this season’s inter-county championship.

The squad is drawn from six clubs – Swindon Westlecot, Wootton Bassett, Holt, Chippenham Town, Spencer Moulton and Amesbury.

The first three clubs above supply the bulk of the players in the squad (25) with the other six split equally between Chippenham Town, Spencer Moulton and Amesbury.

There are four newcomers in the squad – Craig Doughty, Kevin Rowden, Justin Davis and Kevin Oliver – all from the Holt club, while Barry Sictorness (Wootton Bassett) returns after taking a year out from the sport.

Bassett supply eight players in the Wiltshire Middleton Cup squad, Kyle Anderson, Chris Cheesley, Dave Godwin, who has switched from Chippenham Town, Gary Morphet, James Nobbs, Sictorness, Neil Smith and Steve Snell.

Meanwhile, with the departure of Godwin from Chippenham Town their representation is reduced to only two, Paul Macdonald and Billy McCay.

Two of the squad, Ian Jefferies and Kevin Oliver are unavailable for the cup trial owing to prior commitments but the other 29 have been invited to attend the Middleton Cup trial on Sunday, May 18 at Wootton Bassett (10am).

Two years ago Wiltshire lost narrowly to Norfolk in the Middleton Cup final at Worthing while last season they went out in the quarter-finals to their old adversaries Devon.

This season they are rated as favourites to win their west group section and progress to the quarter-finals as they have drawn two home matches at Wootton Bassett.

“I am really looking forward to the new MC season,” said team manager Snell who made over 100 Middleton Cup appearances for Wiltshire and is still a player at Wootton Bassett.

“I believe we have a great chance in reaching the quarter-finals again with two home games in the group this year against Gloucestershire (May 31) and Worcestershire (June 14) with our last group game away to Warwickshire (July 5).

“This will then probably give us another quarter-final against Devon and I think we owe them one.

Several clubs in the area are holding Open Days to encourage newcomers to the game of Bowls.

Wootton Bassett is holding an Open Evening at their green in Tanners Close (next to the Memorial Hall) this coming Friday April 25 from 6pm onwards.

All equipment provided free but please wear flat soled shoes.

Further details from Alan Small on 01793 853300.

Devizes Bowls Club, which is situated at the top of Long Street, are holding an Open Day on Saturday, May 3 (10am-1pm).

All equipment will be supplied free of charge and they have a good selection of shoes but trainers may be accepted depending on the condition of the green.

And finally the North Wilts Club at Westcroft, Chippenham are hosting an Open Day on Saturday, May 10 from 10am-4pm.

All welcome no matter what age for those persons who have an interest in playing bowls and want a fun and enjoyable day. Shoes and bowls will be provided. There will also be a follow-up of four weeks for those who would like to take up the game.