It’s a season of change in the Huddersfield Cricket League and it looks like being more competitive than ever.
League chairman Trevor Atkinson says everything is ready for the new-look league to start on Saturday April 15 – and all that is needed is good weather.
There are some tasty fixtures on the opening weekend as last season’s runners-up Honley take on newly-promoted Mirfield Parish. Meanwhile last year’s champions Hoylandswaine take on Shepley away.
The two mighty cup teams from last season face eachother too. Thongsbridge, who won the T20 Cup, take on the Sykes Cup winners Moorlands.
On the upcoming season, Mr Atkinson said: “The whole league is excited to have cricket back. We are one of the biggest leagues in the country with 40 clubs so to have it start up again is great.
“Obviously this season there has been a change to the format with six leagues having 12 teams and the bottom league having eight. This will make every league even more competitive to try and stay in it, because instead of two going down from 14 in the Premiership it’s now two from 12 and so on.
“I think last season was fantastic but I believe this year can be even better. The clubs have struggled slightly with the wet weather through March to prepare for the season.
“However we are all just hoping that it’s a nice day come April 15 and every fixture goes ahead. When the first weekend round of games is cancelled it can cause issues whether we award everyone two points or we try to squeeze the rearranged games elsewhere. However, hopefully everything will go smoothly.”
The league are still working on their clubmark ECB rating and although the league are still aiming to have this by the end of this season, Mr Atkinson believes it might be 2024 by the time the league secures it.
He said: “We are working very hard to attain this status and we are working very well with the Yorkshire Cricket Board. There are lots of things we need to put in place and some of these things take time. Hopefully we’ll have attained the status by 2024.”
Back to the clubs and Mr Atkinson is pleased to see that the league members are improving their facilities and trying to encourage youngsters to get into the sport.
He added: “We have supported many clubs with loans to help clubs build better facilities. We are very supportive of this and it’s great to see clubs looking to improve things. A lot of the clubs also now have strong junior sections and to me that’s important too as these youngsters are the future of our game.”
Finally, the league are trialling that below the Conference division teams will either play 45 overs or 40 overs. The Premiership, Championship and Conference divisions will stay at 50 overs but start 30 minutes earlier. So instead of starting at 1pm, fixtures will begin at 12.30pm.
On this change Mr Atkinson said: “We have listened to the players and many people now want to get home earlier on a Saturday and so we took the decision to trial less overs in the lower leagues and push the start time forward. Depending on how this goes this season then it might be a permanent change going forward.”