Featured Image: Gharib Nawaz (Hoylandswaine) clinically flayed Moorlands in a runfest at the Memorial Ground as 600 runs were shared between the two teams on the opening day of the season.
On a blustery and chilly afternoon in the top division, reigning champions Delph & Dobcross got their title defence off to the best possible start with a comprehensive dismantling of Kirkburton at Riley Lane. With both teams missing key players, it was Delph who came out on top after putting the home side under the cosh in the early exchanges. However a key stand between stand-in captain Jonathan Butterfield and young all-rounder Siraj Sajid allowed Kirkburton to post a competitive total with dangerous Delph & Dobcross swing bowler Shakir Muhammad taking 6-48. Despite losing Lancashire U19 opener Nathan Jones fairly early on, a partnership of nearly 100 between former Yorkshire Academy batsman Mosun Hussain and the experienced Graeme Simpson put Delph firmly on track. After Hussain departed for a solid 46 it was left to another stand-in skipper Arron Lilley to see the job home accompanied by the aforementioned Simpson (92no).
Newly promoted Moorlands had a brutal lesson in how difficult life can be in the Premiership after winning the toss and putting Hoylandswaine - boasting several high profile new recruits - in to bat first. It proved to be a long, hard shift in the field as the prolific Gharib Nawaz (140) and new signing Chris Holliday (93) put Moorlands to the sword. Swaine racked up a huge 347-5 on the expansive Memorial Ground pitch with other contributions from Singh, Joice and skipper Ryan Robinson. Moorlands showed character in their reply though, falling just over 100 runs short as Hoylandswaine took the points.
Probably the most exciting match in the top flight was at Honley's new look ground as they entertained Shepley. In a match that was ultimately ended by bad light it was the visitors who came out on top by just 4 runs after their 169-9 total was reduced to 154 with middle-order batsman Josh Ardron top scoring with 58. Honley battled their way in reply with batsmen falling at key moments. As the light faded the game was abandoned with Honley narrowly short on 150-8. They collected 2 points having finished within 90% of the Shepley total.
Local bragging rights went to newly-promoted Thongsbridge's way as they overcame Armitage Bridge. On a typically slow early-season wicket, Thongsbridge accumulated 189-8, always a competitive total at Armitage Bridge, with new overseas Philip Vissar grafting his way to 61. The hosts found scoreboard pressure just a bit too much for them in the chase as they ran aground 21 runs shy.
Golcar overcame Barkisland in another match prematurely ended by the darkening skies above Greetland. They were always in control as they put together a daunting 276-3 total with new opening bat Abdul Wahid impressing his new club with 81. Long-serving Golcar skipper Steve Whitwam was also in the runs with 75. Even though lengthy delays due to showers reduced that total to 230, the home side were never competing and finished on 117-9 at close. 6-0 points-wise to the visitors.
The final two matches saw Scholes - with powerful batsmen Devon Smith and Joe Carter yet to arrive - usurped by visitors Broad Oak at Chapelgate and Cawthorne putting Skelmanthorpe to the sword. Oak captain Dominic Finn steered his side well as they put up a competitive score of 195ao. Scholes stuttered with their response, losing their opening batsmen cheaply. Skipper James Noble (61) lay a solid platform to make the game interesting but Broad Oak were too good in the end as Adam France ended his former club's hopes with 3-36.
Skelmanthorpe showed they still have some gelling to do, particularly in the field as they let Cawthorne amass 252-6 thanks to three fifties from Liam Wiles, the evergreen Iqbal Khan and Michael Burgess. It was a rather one-sided affair as 'Shat' stumbled their way to 155ao although they would have taken heart from new-signing Ibby Younas' half-century on debut.
Rastrick, who made a positive mark in their 2016 campaign had a rude awakening to their 2017 season as new boys Mirfield Parish Cavaliers romped to a huge victory at Round Hill. So much for early season slow decks, the Conference champions hammered 314-9 anchored by a century from former county player Tim Orrell. A totally dominant performance was rounded off with a five wicket haul for Fretwell as Mirfield Parish Cavaliers lay a convincing impression on the division.
Elland - competing in the second tier for the first time in decades got their campaign off to a flyer with an easy win over visitors Meltham. Any score over 200 at Hullen Edge is always a tough chase and Meltham wilted in the field as the hosts set 271-9 thanks to several contributors but in particularly young prospect Mohammad Ali (85). Meltham finished 95 runs short in the second innings as Elland took the points.
Another relegated Premiership team Shelley started well at home to Slaithwaite. Captain Louis Sykes let his team to victory but it was new-signing Nick Sharp from Kirkburton with 75 who was the main contributor. The visitors fell well short of the 242-7 total but collected a batting point in their reply of 183-8.
Clayton West were utterly destroyed by newly-promoted Almondbury Wesleyans, being bowled out for 75 with Smith (5-10) the chief tormentor. Will Binns (29) ensured the earliest finish of the day as Wesleyans totted off the meager total for the loss of 2 wickets.
Linthwaite may feel slightly aggrieved as they shared 2 points apiece with Kirkheaton. The match was abandoned with Linthwaite on 140-5 in reply to Kirkheaton's 191-9 but with not enough overs surpassed to force a result.
Holmfirth paced their chase to perfection at Lascelles Hall. With a 191ao target revised to 171, Holmfirth reached their target with 5-wickets down in a performance dominated by a great all-round display by Alex Jakeman with 3-52 with the ball and 54 runs with the bat.
Cedar Court Conference
All the drama was down at Hemplow as Marsden and Cumberworth United played out a thrilling tie. Marsden, relegated from last season's Championship, grafted a total of 125-9 led by homegrown Martin Clee (27no) and former Armitage Bridge batsman Imran Malik (32). Cumberworth equalled that total batting second and they were kept in check with a 'five-fer' from the probing medium-pace of the vastly experienced Ian Bray.
There were easy wins for Almondbury over visitors Thurstonland by 7 wickets and Lepton Highlanders over relegated-from-the-Championship Denby by 8 wickets. Birkby Rose Hill meanwhile overcame Denby Dale with decent batting displays from both teams.
Another close match ensued at Upperthong as visitors Hall Bower edged home by 12 runs. Hall Bower's stop-start total of 169ao proved just enough in the end as three wickets apiece for Amjad and Rafiq secured a 6-2 victory in the points stakes.
Emley Clarence kept Mirfield at bay at the Memorial Ground. At total of 194-6 was too keen for the home side who put on a heartening chase but pulled up 16 runs short whilst collecting two points for their efforts.