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.
CAWTHORNE were last season’s new kids on the block, and they certainly ruffled a few feathers along the way, including reaching the semi-finals of the Romida Sykes Cup.
They went on to finish third in the League, behind champions Armitage Bridge and promoted Thongsbridge, while knocking over Premier club Marsden in the Sykes Cup, and then almost causing the ‘shock of the century’ when they had Skelmanthorpe at 20-odd for six and then 71-7 before the Lidgett Laners recovered to take their place in the final.
Skippered again by Chris Walmsley, Cawthorne will rely very much on the same side this season as they plot promotion to the Frank PlattChampionship.
Walmsley himself was the team’s leading run-scorer with over 700 runs, while also claiming 41 wickets, behind his team’s leading wicket-taker Jake Rodgers with 47, while Mike Burgess with 35 victims was the Conference’s leading keeper.
Quick bowler Paul Tasker is expected to play a bigger part this season with more availability and Walmsley and his side have their sights definitely set on promotion.
LASCELLES HALL had rather a torrid time last year, when arsonists burned down their historic clubhouse before the start of the season. And although they managed to install temporary accommodation and complete the year, problems off the field, also carried onto the field, and the team finished bottom of the Conference, forcing them to seek re-election to the League.
With plans in the pipeline to start re-building a permanent new pavilion this autumn, things are now looking on the up at Highfield Lane, and that looks likely to be reflected on the field where former Hall ‘legend’ Murphy Walwyn is returning as skipper.
It may be some time since ‘Murph’ was in his heyday (he was playing with Hall as far back as 1981), but he will probably still prove to be an imposing figure in the Conference.
The club have also picked up an overseas player in the shape of Aaron Lilley (not the one from Delph), but an opening bowler from Perth, Australia, who is 23 years old and also bats.
Another player returning to the club is Chay Gardiner (inset), who has been working in London for the last six years, and they have also signed promising young player Charlie Mitchell from Kirkheaton, while the club are expecting their own juniors, like Timmy Taylor and the John Booth’s twin boys, Harvey and Toby, to push on this season.
It is always difficult to judge the comparative strength of new teams coming into the Drakes League, but from several strong previous performances in the Sykes Cup, it’s certain CUMBERWORTH will be by no means a pushover in their inaugural season after transferring from the arrow Central League where they have enjoyed plenty of success in recent years.
Skipper Chris Kilner has plenty of experienced players at his disposal, with the likes of James and Jason Senior, bowlers Richard Parkes and Richard Greaves and opening batsman Chris Mosley ensuring they are a competitive outfit.
Kilner’s side are following in the footsteps of Cawthorne, 12 months on, and there is no reason to suggest they won’t be at least as successful as the Barnsley club.
Relegated from the Frank Platt Championship last year, PADDOCK are another club looking at a serious re-build off the field, while also pinning many of their hopes on their young players.
Skippered again by wicketkeeper Martin Lees, the West View Rise club are not planning on an overseas this year, and presently only have one new recruit in the form of Sheraz Khokhar, an all-rounder who has recently moved into the area from London.
Like the Hall, Paddock are another club who have more than their fare share of misery from mindless hooligans who burned down their changing rooms, and who are also hoping to finally start work on the replacement building this year.
Lees is resigned to losing opening batsman Zahid Ahmed, who had a fantastic season in 2010 but apart from hitting a ton against Delph & Dobcross in the Sykes Cup, failed to really fire last summer, along with another batsman Anees Rawat.
Jonny Bishop is again the man in charge at KIRKHEATON where he will be joined this season by his younger brother Chris and a pair of notable players from Rastrick, where Bishop first learned his craft.