2017 Theakston Nidderdale League Season Preview

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The reigning champions, Ouseburn, will be led by Adam Fisher this time round after the departure of Dave Cummings to Bradford League side New Farnley. Fisher is the returning Overseas Player and the Aussie is looking forward to the challenge ahead. Fisher says, “The loss of Dave Cummings hurts, but we’ve picked up Ben Mackrill (Goldsborough) who is a more than handy addition with both bat and ball. We bat deep and our bowling is a definite strength so we are quietly confident of our chances to give top of the table a nudge.”

Goldsborough are very excited to be back in Division One after a 2 year sabbatical. The club continue under the captaincy of Graham Shorter. Jarrod McPhee returns for his 3rd year and on the back of 2,000 Nidderdale runs so far – he’ll be keen to impress in the top division. Andy Ward joins from nearby Knaresborough and will be a strong asset in both bowling and batting as the first team strive towards a top half finish. After 2 years running the 2nd team Gavin Hodson is joining the 1st team – with Derek Pickles taking on the captaincy of the 2s. We will continue to adopt a policy of ensuring our up and coming youngsters always get a chance to play Saturday cricket.

Masham’s skipper Phil Newton will return just in time from his scouting mission to the far east and Australia brimming with confidence to lead his side for the new season and life back in the top flight. Masham have set out their intentions early with the signing of Andy Heard from Birstwith alongside the exciting prospect of Dan Woolston from North Yorks/South Durham side Whitburn. Their ranks will be further bolstered by former overseas player Ben Fielding who has stayed on in the UK. The junior production line at Masham is producing quality talent and big things are expected from Craig Broadley and Kieran Bramley this time out.

With the challenges of the winter well behind them, the 2016 Atkinson Swiers Cup winners Spofforth venture into the season with a new look, a new captain (Steve Ward) and kiwi Devon Nightingale joining them as their overseas player they have a mixture of youth and experience to push for honours. Spofforth visit Birstwith in the first round who will surely be looking to push for the top honours this season after finishing third last season.

Last year’s runners up were Darley who retain the services of Aussie Brad Stephens who didn’t disappoint his skipper’s challenge this time last year of taking 50 wickets. Leading run scorer last year, Chris Gill, is retained in the ranks but Stuart Robertson has moved to New Zealand and Jonny Milne forced to retire due to injury. The 2016 Atkinson Swiers Cup runners up will look to go one better in the League this year. Chris Gill will captain the 2017 League Representative side.

There is just one new signing for Birstwith who finished in third place last season.  Mike Hennings joins from from Ripley.  No players have been lost from the 1st XI so its the same group as last year. The 1sts are hoping to do the same or better as last year but captain Jonny Millward says ” I think it’ll be a tougher league this year.”

The 2016 season was one dogged by injury for focused (read grumpy) run machine Aaron Brunner who returns for a third season at Knaresborough Forest. Brunner still managed to hit 1200 runs to add to his 2015 record breaking total of 1800. If he stays fit he will surely make the difference at the Calcutt Oval. Skipper Stewart Pyke is in confident mood. “We are looking forward to going one step further than last season and push on to try and make the top four.” He goes on to say, “The club is delighted to welcome Josh Davies from Bishop Thornton who will be joined by Paul Macauley (Killinghall) and Dan Kiernan (Sheriff Hutton Bridge).” Forest might surprise a few teams this year.

Alne have been quiet on the transfer front but Alex Buteux returns to the “Magic Circle” from a brief stint at Bilton-in-Ainsty to bolster the ranks for skipper Ric Henley. The Magic Men will be without an overseas player this year but undoubtedly the chocolate cake will remain the stuff of Nidderdale folklore this year.

Hampsthwaite have a rejuvenated squad with additions to both first and second teams. Captain Sam Dabin will be assisted by vice captains Richard Vass and Andy Taylor. Dabin says “The new additions and strength and depth will make us strong contenders this year.” He expects to finish in the top half of the table. Chris Cheshire takes the reigns in the 2nds to build on the foundations built by Dan Thompson, who will offer his support as vice-captain. With improved availability and a renewed enthusiasm from players during an encouraging pre-season routine, Cheshire hopes to return the 2nds to Division Three. The ranks are bolstered by Kevin McDelling from Scottish outfit Boroughmuir and Aussie Luke Mannion returns to impress and hopefully to carry on as he finished last season. The club have secured planning permission to update and expand the clubhouse but work won’t start until end of season so things are looking positive for The Bears.

Burton Leonard have been very quiet over the winter with no new signings but they will be joined by Tom Stanley, an overseas from Australia who will lead the attack with the new ball. The club are hoping for a top 4 birth come September.

Helperby have signed Kiwi Dylan Steyn and will be looking to press for the top spot this time out and hope to retain a sight screen at both ends of the ground this season.

The facilities at West Tanfield have been significantly improved over the winter thanks to a hard-working committee and several successful grant applications. A new electronic scoreboard will see the scores rattle up on one of the best wickets in the League. Aussie Josh Barrett joins as their overseas player. Farming commitments may hamper Tanfield’s consistency but a talented, young outfit will challenge all comers.

There was heartbreak for Bishop Thornton with a trip through the trap door into Divison Two. Chairman Julian Potter is under no illusions as to how difficult it is trying to keep two cricket teams running. “Its like trying to keep a bucket with a hole in it full of water. You need to keep getting new players in at the top to replace those falling out the bottom!” Over the past few years, the flow of players leaving to go to university and work placements around the UK has resulted in a bucket that was nearly empty despite best attempts to top it up. This year, the Curlews have signed Matt Varley from Wakefield Thornes and are gradually building a strong team around him. Week one clashes with football, rugby and a national young farmers party to which the club have lost 6 players. Last year that would have meant conceding the second team, but this year, with an overflowing bucket of talent, they will be fielding two teams of 11 cricketers. Adam Newcombe and John Wentworth both move from Wath and Melmerby and Andrew Hyland will be the Curlew’s Overseas Player. Guests to Bishop Thornton this season will notice improvements to the ground with an extended outfield, new covers, screens, square, kitchen, kit and practice nets. The aim for 2017 season is to have both teams promoted and Potter says “If we all perform to our best, we have a very good chance.” More importantly though, Potter wants to get a good club spirit, where people come up and watch cricket in comfortable conditions and plenty to keep the children safely entertained.

Newby Hall welcome Gerhard Rautenbach from Australia as their overseas player and the club will host the 2017 Finals Day on Sunday 23rd July.

Raskelf have retained the services of Aussie Bradley Clark and will be looking to improve on their fourth place finish this season.

Scotton have signed William Cunningham as their overseas player.

There are exciting times at Wath and Melmerby and under the stewardship of 2016 Player of the Season Bobby Hilton are looking forward to the new season. There are a couple of new faces including Tom Hogg (Thirsk) and Mitchell Cross who will be the club’s first ever overseas player. Hilton said “Mitchell is looking great in the nets and I can see him and Danny (Harris) striking with the ball hard this year” Hilton is hoping for another bumper year personally but also looking to Ben Kettlewell for a significant contribution. Wath are looking to finish well up the table and will be out there to win every game. The ground at Wath is improving year on year and their bowlers will have to work hard to bowl teams out on what could only be described as a batsman’s paradise. In a typical upbeat mood, Hilton says “ We all want one thing, and its only one promotion away.” Wath will also host the 2017 Ingilby Shield fixture on Sunday 18th June when the League Side take on a team of Overseas Players which is always a keenly fought contest.

Wath begin their season away at Dacre Banks who have the same captains as last season; Tim Carrington will lead the 1st XI with Jonny Harris in control of the 2nds. The 2015 overseas player, Mitchell Hearn, who scored a club record 5 centuries in all competitions 2 years ago, returns. There have been a couple of new signings to bolster the ranks, most notably all-rounder Ed Luke. There are hopes for the 1st XI to compete in the top half of table, though that will largely depend on how much star wicketkeeper Chris Eckford can play after winning the league wicket keeping trophy last season. The players have laid down a challenge to Matt Jones to register as many runs as pints sunk in the season and if he achieves that target Dacre are sure to have had an excellent season!

Ripley will be lead by local journeyman and crisp fanatic James Keane who returns after a spell at Spofforth and more recently Knaresborough.  Michael Sacchetta will be their overseas player.

Burnt Yates return to Division Two after a sensational run of form at the end of the 2016 campaign and hope to consolidate this year.

Pateley Bridge must be looking to bounce back after a difficult 2016 but have lost the services of talented batsman Chris Langley who has joined Saltaire but have signed an overseas player in Joel Bienefelt.

Studley Royal will be lead by returning overseas player Michael Litterback who will hope to inspire his troops to success this season.

Every season the competition to really watch is in Division Three and a truly resurgent Boroughbridge and Staveley are very much looking forward to the new season and have been working hard on improving their ground in the past few weeks. Skipper Christian Hendy said “We have not recruited as we would have liked but player commitment levels for the coming season appear to be on the up. It is very much a case of continuing the momentum that we have gathered over the past couple of seasons and we see no reason why we can’t challenge for our third successive promotion and cup double having beaten both of the promoted teams last season on our way to winning the Barrett Cup.” Hendy’s men realise that it will be much tougher this year but their confidence is high and there are greater expectations for the 2nd team who think they could mount their own promotion challenge.

For a full list of player transfers http://www.nidderdaleleague.co.uk/player-transfers and a list of the 2017 Overseas Players http://www.nidderdaleleague.co.uk/overseas-players

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