MAX JOICE returned to old club Skelmanthorpe the conquering hero, immediately showing his new side Honley just what a talent they have acquired as the new Drakes League season opened in blistering fashion.
The pint-sized batsman put on a towering demonstration of power hitting as he blasted an unbeaten 145 against his old teammates, smashing seven sixes and 13 fours.
He was helped along the way with Sarfraz Ahmed and Indian Test star Wasim Jaffer both spilling difficult chances as the Lidgett Lane attack came under heavy pressure.
Simon Kelly (117) was also in truly imperious form on opening day, hoisting five enormous sixes and 15 fours in his own chanceless century from 105 balls, as he and Joice put on 146 for the third wicket, while Martin Green (31no) joined in the fun at the end as he and Joice put on an unbroken 103 for the sixth wicket to take Honley to a mammoth 335-5.
Tim Sykes (35) and Jaffer (88) started well, putting on 120 for the first wicket, while Qaiser Rashid weighed in with 43 and there was a battling 68 from Kris Whittaker, batting at No7, but they had to settle for a point despite topping 300 themselves.
Elsewhere there were several shocks, not least for reigning champions Scholes who found themselves on the wrong end of 17-run defeat to newly-promoted Marsden.
The Byrom Shield holders did the business in the first half of the match with prize-winning bowler Andy Alsop straight back in the groove with five for 27 as Marsden were dismissed for just 114, the only scores of note coming from Chris Kilner (20) and Ibar ul-Haq (28), but then it all went wrong for Scholes as Kilner got to work with the ball, also bagging a five-wicket haul, with just skipper James Noble (25) and newcomer Luke Bird (40) the only two in double figures.
Ul-Haq then took over to mop up the lower order with three for 26 as the Chapelgaters were shot out for 97.
The other two promoted clubs, Kirkburton and Hoylandswaine also got away to winning starts, former Honley man Matthew Wood doing the business against Elland with an unbeaten 72 and Tom Burkinshaw 37 not out.
But it was young Yorkshire Academy product Charlie Roebuck who really gave Kirkburton’s reply some impetus when his dashing blade brought up a lightning 50 out of 69 before being leg before to Jimmy Thornton.
Elland had really struggled early in the day with Greg Lambert plunging them to 3-3 before the Finn brothers, Greg (61) and Dominic (45no) led the recovery and helped the Hullen Edgers post a 197-6 tally.
Spare a thought for Craig Ruscoe who slammed a tremendous 134 over at Hoylandswaine in a 278-run total and still lost, as John Ashton took five for 46 before making 47 with the bat to support Liam Dickinson’s 68. But it was left to newcomers Ben Potter with an unbeaten 34 and Anthony Marr (28no) to see Swaine home by three wickets.
Last season’s form team Shepley got away to a flier, beating Delph & Dobcross, even with Lancashire first-teamer Kyle Hogg in their side.
Tim Rees (74) and Ranjit-Don Bandula (71) hit the bulk of the visitors’ 249 runs, Arron Lilley taking four for 66.
Irfan Zahoor made 69 and Lilley exactly 50, plus 48 from John Morris, but then SP Singh took over and ran through Delph like a dose of salts, to capture six for 42, including a hat trick as the home side fell for 205.
Jack Taylor (79) led Barkisland’s run charge at Holmfirth, well supported by Andrew Fraine (49) and Darren Robinson (42no) as they totalled 251-5.
Matthew Steers then claimed four for 36 as Holmfirth struggled to 182 all out, Andy Gleave top-scoring with 43.
Ex-Shepley man Romain Grenville enjoyed the first run out with his new side Broad Oak, picking up three wickets and making an unbeaten 58 to back up James Howson’s 71 as they beat Slaithwaite by six wickets.
There were two Championship tons at Clayton West, where Shelley’s Joe Sykes cracked 136 in their 286-6 tally, before Aussie Greg Davis hit back with 135 for Clayton, but unlike Sykes he had little support and they faltered at 238-8.
At Micklehurst, Mohammed Usman (104no) fired his maiden senior century to lead his new club Meltham to a seven-wicket win.
Mumtaz Ali had four wickets and a match-winning unbeaten 72 for Lepton Highlanders against Kexborough, while Sean Barry made 63 and Chris Sykes 40 not out and took five for 46 as Hall Bower defeated Almondbury.
Imran Malik cracked 15 fours and five sixes and put on 112 for the ninth wicket with Wasim Ullah for Linthwaite but they fell 10 short of victory at Rastrick, where Anil Singh made 87 and Chris Dennison 76.
Paddock beat Lascelles Hall with Steve Abbott (98no) and three for 34 the main man, while Ijaz Shah took six for 22 as Thongbridge beat Armitage Bridge.