HANGING HEATON look likely to spearhead the district’s challenge to reigning champions Pudsey St Lawrence in the 2017 All Rounder Cricket Bradford Premier League season.
With no departures, the addition of Pudsey Congs batsman Callum Geldart looks like giving skipper Gary Fellows an extra string to his bow.
His side’s failure to match the 68 batting points accumulated by St Lawrence was a contributory factor in Hanging Heaton finishing just four points adrift of their title rivals, and Geldart will surely strengthen what was sometimes a vulnerable middle order last season.
While there will be inevitable disruptions due to adverse weather conditions this coming season, a look at last year’s tables, under the ‘abandoned’ column, is yet another reason for the Bennett Lane club to feel aggrieved about that problem last year after they finished with one more abandoned game than Pudsey.
Although that could have made all the difference cricket chairman John Carruthers makes no excuses. “It wasn’t one game that cost us the title,” he told The Press, “we lost games we should have won.” Despite the strengthening of the squad with Geldart’s signing Carruthers is making no predictions. “At this stage it is always a case of waiting and seeing how things develop,” he insists.
It is hard to see anyone breaking up last season’s top six as Cleckheaton and Woodlands look set to be amongst them again although Woodlands will doubtless miss the consistent bowling and sometime explosive batting of the retired Safraz Ahmed.
Former Gomersal and Hanging Heaton leg spinner Mark Lawson, an England under 19 player during his time at Yorkshire, has joined Woodlands from New Farnley while Cleckheaton have lost Mohammed Zaman to neighbours Hartshead Moor but are otherwise largely unchanged.
Scholes were relegated after just one season in the top flight but Batley have found themselves in the Premier Division after only one season in the Bradford League.
Having come through what was perhaps the weaker of the two Championship sections as champions a huge task awaits them as they try to cement their Premier Division place.
Batley were full of confidence ahead of their admission to the Bradford League and having only signed Shabir Rashid, from Ossett, and Hassas Abbass, from Heckmondwike and Carlinghow, they are clearly confident of their title-winning Championship side being good enough. East Bierley, once one of the league’s leading clubs, struggled last season and they look like facing another long slog.