The Jedi Sports Championship could be the most compelling section of the Drakes League this summer.
Back up to 12 strong, it’s a fascinating mix of five established clubs, five who were promoted from the Conference last season and two who were relegated from the top flight – Marsden and Hall Bower.
Marsden, who have lost all-rounder Chris Kilner to Slaithwaite in the Drakes Premiership, have drafted in Adbul Ghafoor from Holmfirth while the Bower, who went down on the final day, have recruited Pakistani Raheel Akhtar as their overseas player.
Of the clubs who were in the Championship last season, Oddfellows Cup winners Cawthorne have made strong strides to improve.
In addition to bringing in experienced duo Matt Smith and Mark Bray from Denby and Kexborough respectively, they have added Harry Howlett from Green Moor, who was leading run-scorer in the arrowselfdrive Central League last season with 978 at an average of 65.
Howlett has followed his former Green Moor teammates Ben Simpson, Chris Matthewman and Jake Rogers to Dark Lane, where they will be hoping to feature much nearer the top of the table than they did last season.
Broad Oak, who with another point would have been playing in the top-flight this season instead of Meltham, have made three signings from Clayton West to play alongside the likes of Lee Baxter, Johnny Greaves and Alex Slack.
Dale and Ryan Baxter have made the switch up the Colne Valley, alongside bowler Philip Rigby, to join what is a pretty well-established squad.
Thongsbridge have added tall batsman Dan Hoyle to their ranks from Cawthorne, while Linthwaite have been busy in signing former Holmfirth and Slaithwaite bowler Greg Alexander, Mumtaz Zafar from Bowling Old Lane, Rauf Abdul Ali from Augustinians and former Lepton duo Sayed Rizvi and Mohammad Shafiq.
Clayton West, who were relegated in 2013 from the Premiership, have re-signed veteran Mark England and his son Josh and will be hoping to improve on their mid-table slot.
It could be a tough task, however, as the promoted sides have all been keen to maintain momentum.
Reining Conference champions Moorlands could take some stopping.
Not only have the Memorial Ground club brought back the Drakes League’s non-EU Player of the Year in Aussie all-rounder Chris Lloyd – a league-leading 84 wickets last summer on top of 600-plus runs – but they have also added experienced duo Louis Aspeling and Peter Lombard.
Matt Harrison has also made the move to Mirfield from Thornhill to join a Moorlands side who lost only one league match last summer.
Emley, who went straight back up in second place after being relegated the previous season, have signed quick bowler Campbell Thomas from Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, where he has played alongside Scholes’ former and current signings Joe Carter and Pete Drysdale.
Almondbury Wesleyans, who were promoted in third place, have added three players from Paddock – opening bowler Moin Hussain and Under 17s Tabraiz Sajid and Nabeel Saleem.
Lascelles Hall – after all their off-field problems in the last few years – are determined to make the most of their elevation and have brought in three players who were at Premiership clubs last season.
Rugby League player Sam Scott was captain at Shelley 12 months ago and has been signed up along with Nick Sharpe, while Jordan Greaves has made the move from Skelmanthorpe.
The Hall have also picked up Josh Hudson-Evans, the son of former player Ronnie Hudson.
The other promoted club, Armitage Bridge, will hope their Australian overseas signing Brendan Walsh can make an impact.
He is a 24-year-old former Victoria Under 19 player from Ringwood CC in the Victorian Premier League, and while he bats right handed he bowls slow left-arm orthodox.
Walsh has played 95 first-grade games in Australia and he’ll be hoping to help attract more supporters down to Dean Brook Road to try out the club’s newly refurbished bar facilities.
Armitage Bridge have also picked up Seb Allen from Holmfirth, Faheem Hussain from Linthwaite and Haydn Charlton from Kirkheaton, in addition to Sam Stride from Green Moor.
Opening Jedi Sports Championship fixtures: Almondbury Wes v Hall Bower, Armitage Bridge v Moorlands, Emley Clarence v Linthwaite, Lascelles Hall v Broad Oak, Marsden v Clayton West, Thongsbridge v Cawthorne.