AMIDST some pre-season controversy, the 2013 LIME Elite Division begins today with questions over whether any team can dethrone four-time defending champions Sagicor UWI. While the dispute between the Barbados Cricket Association and the Barbados Cricket Umpires Association was amicably resolved two days ago, UWI are now up in arms with the local governing body over a new rule that limits their students to playing a maximum of five seasons. Be that as it may, there is the usual anticipation ahead of the season in which there has been less movement among players to other clubs than in the previous three years when the promotion/demotion system first took effect. UWI have built up an aura of invincibility, having achieved four successive top league titles and a clean sweep of the three major competitions last season when they won seven of nine Elite Division matches, nine out of ten in the Sagicor General Super Cup and ten out of ten in the Twenty20 competition. It will be a challenge to maintain such high standards this season, but captain Kyle Corbin is expecting another good showing from his men. “We’re going in the competition as likely favourites to win based on the last four years. We’re expected to go out and perform this year,” Corbin said. “We have a strong coaching staff and players who want to win. We will not go into the competition with anything other than the intention of winning. “Last year was a remarkable achievement for us. The standards have been set and we expect to win all three titles again.” UWI are without seven players who started the season last year for varying reasons. Among them are appointed three-day captain Omar Phillips, who is playing in England, where pacer Kevin McClean is also campaigning; Barbados cap Jonathan Carter; Rommel Currency; and Nekoli Parris, but they boast of so much depth in their programme that they can replace them without much bother. “This year will be a bit more challenging because we are missing a few guys. If you look back at last season, there are a couple guys who didn’t perform as well as they could have. They will want to step up to the plate,” Corbin said. “With the structure of our team, it is probably not one of the better teams on paper but it is still a relatively experienced side with a lot of guys who have played first-class cricket. I don’t see why we shouldn’t win.” UWI’s first opponents are BDFSF, a side that features a facelift from last season with the presence of five newcomers in their opening match. One of the more intriguing matches of the first series is the clash at Queen’s Park between CGI Maple, who placed third last season, and hosts Super Centre Spartan, who were fourth. Spartan are without three key players – Shamarh Brooks, Rashidi Boucher and Sulieman Benn – and lot will depend on Marrodon Bend, last season’s second highest run-scorer. Maple have been boosted by the inclusion of newcomer Brian Corbin, but his former Police teammate Callitos Lopez is unavailable because the transfer process has not been completed. With fast bowling all-rounder Barrington Yearwood Jr also not available, club president Pedro Agard, who relinquished the captaincy and was not expecting to play, will be pressed into action for his 26th straight season. An all-St Philip battle between ESA Field Pickwick and Republic Bank St Catherine should be a keenly contested at Foursquare Oval, while there should also be an interesting tussle at Desmond Haynes Oval between Carlton and depleted ICBL Empire, who are missing six key players, three of them on Barbados duty. The other match features Guardian General Barbados Youth and last season’s Division 1 champions LIME, who have been forced to turn to veteran off-spinner Anthony Morris in the absence of Ashley Nurse and Amory Holder.