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2017 Cricket Season Preview: Returning duo look to make impact in Drakes Huddersfield Cricket League's top flight

Moorlands and Thongsbridge have new recruits for season's challenge

Moorlands new signing Cameron French

Thongsbridge and Moorlands are back in the Drakes Premiership – and both clubs have recruited from the southern hemisphere.

Champions of the Jedi Sports Championship last season, Moorlands have signed Liam Smith and Cameron French from long-established Brisbane Grade club Redlands Tigers.

French is well known in Huddersfield, having played for Kirkheaton in the Championship last season, topping the divisional averages with 998 runs at 58.71.

Smith is a batsman who will be looking to make an impact in the top flight. Moorlands have also signed Aqeel Mukhtar from Batley.

Thongsbridge will again be led by Richard Wagstaff and they have signed Jed Standring, a UK passport-holding batsman from Joondalup CC in Perth.

They have also recruited South African all-rounder Philip Visser, who bowls off-spin and plays in the Boland Premier League for Stellenbosch University.

David Wagstaff, brother of skipper Richard, has now finished university and is available for the whole season. The rest of their promotion-winning squad remains intact.

Thongsbridge bowler David Wagstaffe.

Champions Delph have signed Mosun Hussain, the former England Under 19 batsman released by Yorkshire (he scored a century against Scholes last season in the Yorkshire Champions Trophy for the Headingley Academy).

Hussain played with England’s Haseeb Hameed at Under 17 level.

Delph also have young pace bowler Michael Finan, who has been playing at Northamptonshire, while popular Indian Shreevats Goswami is back as overseas pro and will captain the T20 side in defence of the Trophy.

2017 Cricket Season Preview: It's all change as Drakes Huddersfield Cricket League get ready for action

Former Durham seamer Jamie Harrison has signed for Hoylandswaine, who are bidding to go one better than last season’s second-placed finish.

And the 26-year-old will be joined at Haigh Lane by Muhammad Bilal, who has switched from New Farnley.

Harrison has 18 first-class matches under his belt and joins a squad already including new faces Gurman Randhawa – the former Yorkshire all-rounder who is returning to the Drakes – and top-order batsman Chris Holliday from Cleckheaton.

Swaine, who have lost Australian all-rounder Michael Cranmer, long-serving opening bat Alex Morris and Richard Wilkinson (to Whitley Hall) from last season’s side, have also signed Adnan Ghani from Denby and Josh Holmes and Andrew Burkill from Darton.

Shepley, third last season, have signed Brenton Thompson, a Kiwi who bats right handed up the order and bowls off spin.

The 26-year-old Thompson is from the successful Bay of Plenty stable in New Zealand and has twice played in England – Woodmancote (West of England Premier League – Gloucestershire Division) in 2014, then Woodford Wells (Essex Cricket League – Division One) in 2015.

Shepley have also signed talented teenage all-rounder Archie Greaves from Cumberworth and Nadim Hussain, from Townville.

Barkisland have basically the same squad as last season’s fourth-placed outfit, but they have drafted in another Zimbabwean overseas all-rounder in Tino Mafusire, from the same Rainbow Sharks club as last season’s overseas Gary Chirimuuta, who hit 666 runs at almost 40.00.

Scholes have an exciting looking side including former West Indies opening batsman Devon Smith.

Former West Indies international Devon Smith

He will be joined by Joe Carter of Northern Districts, who in his two previous seasons of Drakes Cricket won the Premiership batting prize.

And Kiwi Callum Hill, who got an unbeaten century against Elland last summer, is back to bolster the batting and provide wicketkeeping back-up to Richard Holmes.

Amitage Bridge have signed 20-year-old opening bowler Matt Wallbank of the Northern Districts A team as their overseas for 2017.

They have also recrutied former Elland skipper Robin Broom, while Kiwi Jaycob Curtling is back for a third season in Bridge colours.

2017 Cricket Season Preview: Mirfield Parish Cavaliers can make a charge in Jedi Championship

Golcar have signed Abdul Wahid from Shelley and Rijnier Coetzer from Barkisland – and they are delighted to have Upul Bandara back from Sri Lanka in an otherwise unchanged squad.

Cawthorne have signed Gordon CC opening bowler Dan Stickland from New South Wales as they bid to improve on fourth-bottom last season.

Kirkburton, who will be led by Craig Fletcher, have also recruited from James Pamment’s Northern Districts A, bringing in batsman Luke Williamson.

Burton are boosted by the return of Tom Burkinshaw from Shepley and have also added experienced Dale Winterbottom, who was at Ossett last season, George Smith from Cumberworth and young spinner Mo Bhoola from Shelley.

Honley, who finished just above the drop zone last summer, have also gone to Pamment to pick up Northern Districts bowler Brett Randell to lead their attack.

Brett Randell who has signed for Honley in the Drakes Huddersfield Cricket League

The 21-year-old is part of the ND 50-over squad and has just made his first-class debut, playing against Wellington and Otago.

From Auckland, Randell was the stand-out performer for New Zealand with the ball in the 2014 Under 19 World Cup.

Randell played in the Derbyshire Premier League last summer for Denby CC, where he took 23 wickets at an average of 26.70 in his 134 overs, with a best return of three for 43.

He plays club cricket for Eden Roskill CC in the Auckland Premier Cricket Competition and is a useful middle-order bat in addition to his medium-quick seam up.

Also at Honley this season are Bjorn Taylor, the well-known Drakes all-rounder who was at East Bierley last season, promising teenage wicketkeeper Ben Harris, the Yorkshire Pathways player who was at Almondbury Wesleyan and Charles Taylor, the former Almondburians batsman.

Will Fraine is returning to Far End Lane to bolster the batting, but Honley have lost wicketkeeper-batsman Eddie Wilson, who is signing for Harrogate.

2017 Cricket Season Preview: It's all change as Drakes Huddersfield Cricket League get ready for action

Broad Oak will be without popular Kiwi Henry Cooper, who is now making his mark in first-class cricket in New Zealand after two summers in the Colne Valley, but they have brought in Ben Hyde, the 24-year-old former Black Caps Under 19 player.

Last but not least, Skelmanthorpe have drafted in Ibrar Younas from Hoylandswaine.

The former Shelley and Elland man will spearhead the attack, having taken wickets wherever he has played, and useful down the order with the bat.

Ibrar Younas.

Taking the new ball with Younas is Aizaz Khan, and all-rounder with over 100 international appearances for Hong Kong who is also very handy with the bat.

Skelmanthorpe have signed top-order batsman Sami Rehman from Burley in Wharfedale CC, Abbas Ahmed, a leg-spinning all-rounder from the same club and his teammate Raees Ishtak, a right-arm quick bowler.

Liam O’Dea returns as the ‘pro’, and the Lidgett Lane side are looking to get a much healthier return from him after last year’s experience in Huddersfield, and a successful season in Australia, where he won the 1st Grade grand final with Southern Eyre, batting at No3.

League prize-winning wicketkeeper Luke Webster takes the gloves once more, and also takes over as vice captain to James Crossland. Leaving the club are Amar Rashid, who has returned closer to Bradford to play at Bierley, Shahzada Khan who has returned to a previous club in Nottingham and Mike Kitson, who has moved to Horsforth.

Opening-day Premiership fixtures: Armitage Bridge v Thongsbridge, Barkisland v Golcar, Honley v Shepley, Kirkburton v Delph & Dobcross, Moorlands v Hoylandswaine, Scholes v Broad Oak, Skelmanthorpe v Cawthorne.Jedi Sports Championship: Almondbury Wes v Clayton West, Elland v Meltham, Lascelles Hall v Holmfirth, Linthwaite v Kirkheaton, Rastrick v Mirfield Parish Cavaliers, Shelley v Slaithwaite.Cedar Court Conference: Almondbury v Thurstonland, Birkby Rose Hill v Denby Dale, Denby v Lepton Highlanders, Marsden v Cumberworth, Mirfield v Emley, Upperthong v Hall Bower.

The draw for the Heavy Woollen Cup in 2017 has been announced.

Kirkburton have a bye when the first round is played on Sunday, April 23, while Hoylandswaine are at home to East Bierley, in what should be a cracker.

Shepley have the task of taking on holders New Farnley at Marsh Lane.

Moorlands host Slaithwaite in an all-Drakes clash, while Scholes are also at home against Drakes opposition in newly-promoted Jedi Sports Championship side Mirfield Parish Cavaliers.

Draw: Moorlands v Slaithwaite, Skelmanthorpe v Birstall, Treeton v Wakefield Thornes, Hanging Heaton v Spen Victoria, Scholes (Drakes League) v Mirfield PC, Shepley v New Farnley, Whitley Hall v Ossett, Hoylandswaine v East Bierley, Woodlands v Yeadon, Scholes (Bradford League) v Buttershaw St Paul’s, Methley v Barkisland, Cawthorne v Townville, Crossbank Meth v Rastrick, Wrenthorpe v Great Preston, Gomersal v Morley. Bye: Kirkburton.

The first round of the Crowther Cup, for second XIs, will be played on Sunday, May 14.

Draw: Mirfield PC v Scholes (Drakes), New Farnley v Shepley, Ossett v Whitley Hall, Buttershaw St Paul’s v Scholes (Bradford League), Townville v Cawthorne, Rastrick v Crossbank Meth, Great Preston v Wrenthorpe, Morley v Gomersal. Byes: Moorlands, Birstall, Wakefield Thornes, Hanging Heaton, East Bierley, Woodlands, Methley, Kirkburton.

Yorkshire and Leicestershire have doubled the number of clubs to so far confirm their approval for the constitutional change which will allow the England and Wales Cricket Board to introduce a new city-based Twenty20 tournament in 2020..

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