IN the first of his three-part pre-season preview, Examiner cricket writer David Lockwood explores the credentials of those clubs in the Drakes League’s ‘Third Division’ – the Cedar Court Conference.
Former Round Hill skipper Matthew Lambert has signed up at Bankfield, where the club are also 95% guaranteed to have snapped up Lambert’s former Rastrick teammate Mohammed Siddiq, who bagged 66 wickets last year as well as slamming a century against Cawthorne.
But Kirkheaton’s recruitment has not stopped there, as they have also picked up two players from Central League club Cartworth Moor, Andrew Mitchell and Italian-born spinner Paulo Girardi.
Last summer Kirkheaton struggled with a lot of youngsters in the first team, this year’s recruitment drive should ensure many of them will return to the Seconds where they can learn their trade without the pressure of first team expectations.
ALMONDBURY were relegated for the Second Division, along with Paddock, and the Fernsiders are also resigned to losing a clutch of players following their demotion.
Their principal loss is that of Mirza Mobeen, who was a 65-wicket performer last season, and is heading for Emley Clarence, while another is batsman David Swan who has joined Clayton West for a tilt at the Premiership.
Third member of last year’s outgoing first team is Atif Kamran, who is believed to be following Mobeen to Emley, having scored over 450 runs last term.
Martin Sykes will again captain Almondbury, who are pursuing a couple of recruits as they bid to resurrect their flagging fortunes.
LINTHWAITE have also got a new skipper this season in Saifur Rehman, who will be looking to see his side improve on last year’s fourth-place finish.
Much of last season’s success was down to the batting skills of Imran Malik who slammed three tons including a massive 163 not out against Kirkheaton, along with five more half-centuries as he finished second in the League’s batting averages with 907 runs at an average of 45.35.
Former Scholes quickie Asim Khan and Mohammed Asam also shook up a number of batsmen last season, and a repeat performance this summer could see the Manchester Road side challenging for a place in the Championship.
RASTRICK have had a clear-out this season, and are intending going without an overseas player this time, and will concentrate largely on their own junior talent.
As well as not having any overseas input, the Round Hill side have also bid farewell to Ateeq Rehman, who has been their ‘star turn’ since 2008, while last season’s captain Matthew Lambert has moved across town.
New skipper this summer is Robin Lambert, who will oversee Rastrick’s promised youth policy, while welcoming back one of the club’s former juniors Bradley Birkhead from Barkisland.
A new face will be Matthew Johnson, brother of Huddersfield Rugby Union star Chris Johnson, who will be back at the club again this time once the rugby season has finished, along with his Lockwood Park teammate Tom Owen.