It may have been a long, bleak winter, but summer finally arrives this weekend with the start of the new cricket season.
The Central Yorkshire League had been due to begin last weekend but chose to reschedule their opening fixtures after heavy snow at the beginning of April left many groundsmen unable to get pitches prepared in time.
There have been over 80 transfers involving CYL clubs and almost 120 in the Bradford League, making it a busy time for club administrators.
Wrenthorpe have dominated the local cricket scene for the last few seasons but the CYL Premier Division champions have lost several players during the winter, including former Yorkshire batsman Gary Fellows to Hanging Heaton and all-rounder Dave Paynter to Morley.
A couple of familiar faces have returned to Mirfield Parish Cavaliers in Mohammed Shah Nawaz and Ibrar Latif, while Birstall have re-signed quality all-rounder Rob McFarlane from Hanging Heaton, who see Nick Bresnan — brother of England Test ace Tim — returning to Townville.
Heaton have had a busy winter, signing Danny Busfield and wicketkeeper Joe Suggitt from New Farnley and are expected to see overseas all-rounder Montcin Hodge arrive from the Leewood Islands.
Heaton’s player chairman John Carruthers is looking to join an elite group of players to have taken 1,000 Bradford League wickets as he requires just 21 to reach the milestone.
Former Wrens teammates Fellows and Paynter will go head to head in Saturday’s opening Bradford League Division One clash when Heaton travel to Morley.
Last season’s Bradford League title race was one of the closest in years, with four clubs having a chance of winning the championship going into the final day.
Woodlands prevailed in the most dramatic fashion and they are again expected to be pushed all the way, with neighbours Cleckheaton among their challengers.
The Moorenders, who are again captained by former Lancashire player John Wood, have retained the services of all last year’s squad.
Opening bowler Iain Wardlaw has had a tremendous winter as he played for Yorkshire in the Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa and was selected for Scotland on a recent tour to the UAE.
Wardlaw’s county commitments could restrict his availability for Cleck this summer but he is a very useful acquisition to have on board.
Wood’s men begin with a tough trip to Baildon, while Wooldlands start their defence at Saltaire.
East Bierley have lost last season’s captain Lee Goddard to New Farnley, who have joined the Bradford League from the CYL and are expected to mount a serious promotion challenge.