JOE LUMB Cup holders Huddersfield have been handed a favourable draw as they defend the county's premier junior cricket trophy next season.
In the group stages, they will have to face the team they beat in last year's final, Barnsley, while York will also represent a difficult tie to negotiate, as will four away trips.
But they have missed some of the toughest junior teams, like Bradford, the Heavy Woollen, Aire-Wharfedale and East and North Yorkshire during the round-robin section of the Under 18 tournament.
Team manager Richard Dodson guided Huddersfield to glory last August and the canny Meltham man will again be trying to cajole and coerce his young charges to repeat their success - the first Huddersfield have enjoyed in the competition since 1992, although they did reach the final the previous year.
And to that end he can also call upon his victorious skipper of last season, Ben Raven-Hill, who is still within the age group.
Others available from last season's winning squad include Sam Scott, Jonny Butterfield, Nick Sharpe, Charlie Roebuck, Matthew Payne and Josh Marshall, while exciting new players like Lascelles Hall signing Gurman Randhawa and Scholes' Joe Sykes are also in line for consideration.
"I couldn't have asked for a better draw for the group stages," admitted a delighted Dodson.
"Of course, as champions every team will be up for it when they play us, and although, on paper, we should be playing against some of the easier sides in our group, I'm sure there will not be any easy games.
"I was delighed at the draw which put five of the traditionally strong teams in the opposite section.
"However, age group cricket tends to come in cycles, so some of last year's stronger sides may be weaker if they have lost several players, while the opposite can also apply to last season's poorer sides.
"But cricket is a great leveller, and irrespective of who we play, there is no room for complacency."
Last year Huddersfield defeated Sheffield, North Yorkshire, Craven, Bradford, Pontefract and East Yorkshire en route to topping their group and then hammered Barnsley by six wickets in the final at Kexborough.
This year's competition gets under way at the end of April, with the group stages finishing the first week in August and the final scheduled for the last Sunday in August.
The venues and exact dates have yet to be determined, but Huddersfield have been drawn in group A.
Group A (inc Huddersfield): Barnsley (home), Craven (home), Doncaster (away), Leeds (away), Pontefract (away), Sheffield (away), York (home).
Group B: Aire-Wharfedale, Bradford, East Yorkshire, Halifax, Heavy Woollen, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, Wetherby.