Woodlands’ title defence could be toughest to date

Cricket at East Bierley, South View Road. East Bierley (Batting) v Hanging Heaton (Fielding). Ismail Dawood bats. (d08081186)
Cricket at East Bierley, South View Road. East Bierley (Batting) v Hanging Heaton (Fielding). Ismail Dawood bats. (d08081186)
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Woodlands will begin their JCT600 Bradford League title defence with a trip to Saltaire tomorrow as the new cricket season swings into action.

Woodlands’ dramatic final day title win last year, was their sixth championship success in eight years and they are again regarded as favourites by many to retain their crown.

They are likely to face stiff opposition from Cleckheaton, who went into last season’s final day as one of four sides in with a shout of winning the first division.

Woodlands and Cleck have both kept the majority of last season’s squads and while the champions make the trip to Saltaire, John Wood’s Moorenders face a trip to newly promoted Baildon.

East Bierley have recruited Pakistani opening bowler Waqus Maqsood as their overseas man and they have re-signed wicketkeeper batsman Ishy Dawood from Hanging Heaton but have lost last season’s captain Lee Goddard to New Farnley.

Last season’s Priestley Cup winners Bierley kick off at home to Pudsey Congs tomorrow.

Hartshead Moor face an opening day Division Two derby at Spen Victoria, while Gomersal welcome Keighley to Oxford Road.

With no Spen interest in the Central Yorkshire League’s top flight, Liversedge and Scholes again take centre stage in Division One.

Scholes travel to promoted Ossett A tomorrow, while Sedge are home to Methley A.

With Cleckheaton and Hartshead Moor both returning to the Heavy Woollen Cup this season, there is great local interest, with six sides involved.

The first round of England’s oldest cup competition is on Sunday, with the pick of the ties seeing Bradford League giants Woodlands and Pudsey Congs clashing.