The Huddersfield Cricket League returns on Saturday April 16 and chairman Trevor Atkinson is excited for the new campaign and believes it might be the closest run title race in years.

Mr Atkinson also confirmed that the Huddersfield League has applied to become the 30th officially recognised ECB Premier League in the country.

Last year Hoylandswaine took the Premiership title, whilst Mirfield-based Moorlands won the Sykes Cup. Skelmanthorpe romped the Jedi Championship to earn promotion to the league’s top division.

Mr Atkinson said: “We’ve done a lot of work in the off season with regards to the structure of the league. From next season there will be a 12-team Premiership and so three teams will go down this time and one will be promoted.

“It’s going to be very competitive as everyone in the Premiership will be looking to retain their place. I think – and we hope – it will be competitive all the way down the division.

“Hoylandswaine and Moorlands will be up there again challenging for the title but a lot of other clubs such as Shepley and Delph & Dobcross have strengthened and so it might be more than just a two horse race this time around.”

Mr Atkinson revealed some exciting news regarding the status of the league, confirming they have started the process to apply to become an ECB Premier League recognised competition.

The premier leagues represent the ‘top tier’ of club cricket leagues. The initiative was introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board to raise standards and bridge the gap between recreational cricket and the first class game.

Mr Atkinson added: “There are currently 29 Premier Leagues in the country and we want to be number 30. It would be amazing if we achieved that. We are one of the biggest towns in the country with one of the biggest cricketing communities. We are seeing more people play the sport every year and we have a thriving junior section. 

“The process may take three years until we have the status and that’s why we have started it now.” 

One thing the cricket league is still looking for is a sponsor for both the league and Sykes Cup and so the committee would be interested in talking to local businesses about sponsorship opportunities.

Mr Atkinson said: “We are looking for a main sponsor for both the league and cup. If any Huddersfield businesses would be interested in sponsoring these competitions then that would be great. Just get in touch with the league, you can find contact details on our website.”

Meanwhile the league is also aiming to address another issue – a shortage of umpires.

“Back in the old days once you retired from playing you would become an umpire but that’s not the case in today’s world,” said Mr Atkinson.

“We have to encourage clubs to help us create more umpires, we have upped their wage and are going to pay for their training. Hopefully this will start to help improve things. It isn’t just our league’s problem, it’s a national cricket problem.”