Carl Crowe was officially welcomed back to the Berkshire County Cricket Club fold at a special pre-season function at Falkland CC's Wash Common ground last Saturday.

He returns as player-coach following a season with his former county Leicestershire.

"I am delighted to be returning," he said. "I will be supporting the captain (Bjorn Mordt) as much as I can.

"One or two have left since the season before last, but there are good youngsters coming in and so hopefully we can enjoy another successful season."

Crowe was in the Berkshire team that won the Minor Counties Championship in 2008 and were the losing finalists in the KO Cup final.

The spinner succeeds Richard Logan, who finished top of the county's batting and bowling averages last season.

That double achievement earned him the Player of the Year award and all-rounder Logan received the Palmer Cup from chairman Cecil Fright on Saturday.

Team manager David Morris said that releasing Logan was "the hardest decision he has ever had to make regarding the team since he took over as manager."

Morris revealed that Berkshire will have a new wicketkeeper in Todd Hutcheson, who was born in South Africa but now holds a British passport.

Hutcheson played for Oxford in the Home Counties League last season but has now moved into the Ascot area.

Berkshire's squad will also include several 'home grown' youngsters, including Shelvin Gumbs, Gurveer Singh, Jamie Hoddle and Trevor McGeer.

They will all play in at least one of the three warm-up matches against Middlesex's first and second teams, both at Radlett CC, and Gloucestershire at Falkland.

The first of those games is against the senior Middlesex side next Wednesday (March 31).

Morris added: "It is the earliest start we have ever made, but the first-class counties make an early start to their fixtures and are looking for friendlies. We are delighted they have chosen Berkshire."

Allrounder James Morris will skipper the side next Wednesday with neither Bjorn Mordt nor Steve Naylor available.

Berkshire will also be without pace bowler Tom Lambert, who is recovering from a broken right hand, which he suffered during a county net practice.

"I had the plaster taken off last week and I am hoping to be play for Henley against Avorians on May 1," said Lambert.

"As I have missed most of the pre-season, it is probably a bit too early to say when I will be able to play for Berkshire."

In addition to Logan, Berkshire handed out their other annual awards on Saturday.

The Young Player of the Year trophy went to Henley batsman Michael Roberts, while the Eddy Pickford Trophy for the most improved player went to 21-year-old Finchampstead all-rounder Darron Augustus.

Neither could attend the presentations and their trophies were collected by Henley skipper Bjorn Mordt and Finchampstead chairman Neil Doody respectively.