THE opening day of a new Drakes League season was a brilliant one for the newcomers – but not so good for the four-time League champions!
Hoylandswaine blazed their way to the day’s highest tally, 332-2 with John Ashton hammering 13 sixes and five fours in a spectacular unbeaten 133, while his third-wicket partner Mark Wright hit two sixes and 12 fours in his 109, the two putting on 249 undefeated at Hall Bower, who in reply were dismissed for 113 in the Cedar Court Conference.
The big match in the Premiership was at Honley, where the defending champions (not for the first time) lost their opening clash, this time against Elland.
Matthew Wood returned to Far End Lane and made a valiant unbeaten 92, but he was upstaged by Greg Buckley, who put on 53 in the last five overs with Jimmy Thornton to steer Elland to 207-3 after Lee Baxter had made 59.
Buckley finished unbeaten on 44 with four huge sixes, while Thornton closed on 35 not out.
After a suicide run out by Simon Kelly, Wood and Mike Fraine (45) took Honley to 86 and on course for victory before Buckley stepped in with four wickets in four balls in the 30th over to reduce the champions to 86-5. Matin Green made a late 29, but needing 16 off the last over with Wood and No11 Ibrar Ali in the middle, they came up six short of victory, Buckley finishing with the fabulous figures of seven for 79.
A six-wicket haul from last season’s leading wicket-taker Ben DeAraugo was the lynchpin to Broad Oak’s winning return to the top flight as Meltham were shot out for 111. Max Freeland (41no) and skipper Graeme Hurlbatt (25) then saw the Colne Valley men home.
It was also an encouraging start for the other top flight new boys, Scholes, who overcame Holmfirth in the all-Holme Valley clash at Bridge Fold.
John Sadler made 59 for the home side who were held to 167-9, Australian Shane Mott taking three for 42, before Iqbal Khan (56no) and Ibrar Latif (39) steered Scholes to a comfortable seven-wicket win.
At Shepley it was a battle of the Glover brothers, Danny taking seven for 64 on his first outing as skipper against Skelmanthorpe. Tim Sykes top-scored with 74 for the visitors who totalled 226-8.
SP Singh replied with 71 as he and Sam Haigh gave the Marsh Laners a great start with 74 for the first wicket, but a steady loss of wickets (Scott Dyson taking four for 63) ended with Shepley needing seven to win off the last two overs.
Danny hit brother Craig for four, but was then bowled by his elder brother, and the home side came up three short.
Barkisland powered their way to 278-8 with Andrew Schofield making 85, Darren Robinson 60 and skipper Paul Winrow 50, before Matt Steers claimed four for 72 as Clayton West were bowled out for 228, Kevin Rank making a brave unbeaten 70, batting at No8, but to no avail.
Micklehurst repeated their win on the last day of the 2008 season at Golcar with half-centuries from Daniel Hesford and Qasir Rashid.
Up the road at Hill Top, Ibrar Younis slammed 94 for Slaithwaite, coming in to bat with his side in trouble at 67-7, but the home side’s 230 tally was not enough to deny Delph & Dobcross, for whom Irfan Zahoor made 80 in the two-wicket win.