Lightcliffe will start their eighth successive season in the Bradford League’s top flight with a trip to Bradford & Bingley on Saturday.
It will be a game new skipper Ian Philliskirk will believe the Wakefield Road side can win, Lightcliffe having finished one place and 22 points ahead of the Wagon Lane team last season.
Chairman Bob Horne said it was “no mean achievement” for a club of such limited resources to continue to compete with the Bradford League’s biggest clubs.
Lightcliffe’s three senior sides will all play in the top division this summer.
Lightcliffe made an excellent start last year and will be hoping for the same again under Philliskirk, who has rejoined after a season with Ossett. He replaces Matt Baxter, who has returned to Morley.
The batting will be strengthened by the signing of the exciting Christian Silkstone from Halifax League club Triangle. He scored 1401 league runs in 2018, including 316 in one go against Thornton!
Opening bowler Ibrar Younis has joined from East Bierley to partner Yasir Abbas, who made such a good impression in 2018.
There will be opportunity during the season for two promising young medium-pace bowlers, 19-year-old Max Gardner and 16-year-old Benjamin Cliff. Cliff, who has represented Yorkshire and the North of England in his age groups, has joined from Copley.
Michael Brooke, after six seasons as second XI skipper, has stood down, to be replaced by David Knight.
The thirds, who play in the Halifax Sunday League, are again skippered by the evergreen and stylish Bruce Lunn.
The women’s team is to be captained by Nicola Race and there will be nine junior teams competing in local leagues.
In addition, Wes Brookes has been putting together a fixture list of friendlies for a Saturday third team.
NORTHOWRAM Fields start their Championship 2 fixtures away to Jer Lane, Halifax League champions from 2013 to 2015 and now making their way up the Bradford League.
The older members of the clubs will remember when the pair used to meet in the Bradford Central League.
Lane have added Ben Burkill to their ranks. The all-rounder has had a successful last few years in the Halifax League after previously playing for Fields.
Saturday’s visitors have a new skipper in Dru Patel and new signings include Sam Gardner from Lightcliffe, Humayan Shahzad from Keighley and Australian amateur Billy Campbell, who arrived two weeks ago.
Brighouse will hope to start reviving their fortunes at home to Azaad, having been relegated to the bottom section for a player irregularity during last season.