Wetherby League preview: Kirk Deighton look to go one better and bag title

hsb  Richard Ward batting for Kirk Deighton against Sicklinghall.  (120728M4c)
hsb Richard Ward batting for Kirk Deighton against Sicklinghall. (120728M4c)

Kirk Deighton narrowly missed out on the Wetherby League crown to Great Preston last season, and captain Rich Ward believes his talented squad are well positioned to go one better this summer.

Ward has a similar outlook to his squad from last year’s second place finish but hopes will be hinged on Tazmanian devil Aidan Marshall as the club’s overseas.

“He’s an all-rounder who will strengthen our bowling and hopefully score a good few runs,” said Ward.

“We fancy our chances for a decent year. It will be quite tight again. I imagine Great Preston will once again be up there, and Scarcroft have been knocking at the door.”

Richard Stevens will again skipper Scarcroft and he has brought in Brisbane all-rounder Aaron Shackleford to replace wicketkeeping supreme Cameron Williams as the club’s overseas.

Shackleford will find himself in the middle-order and bowling darts with his pace option. Upper order batsman Phil Hinds has been recruited from Whitkirk.

“Our expectations are as high as always,” said Stevens.

Last year’s Fred Fleetwood Cup winners Wetherby are praying Jacob Brewer can make the same impression as old overseas Warren Else.

Else recommended the 26-year-old left arm quick and lower order batsman to the Grange Park outfit.

“He’s a big guy and he has a few big shots in him,” said captain Richard Grogan. “We look forward to seeing him in action. We will be hoping for a competitive year. It will be another interesting fight because a few teams have strengthened.”

After fighting relegation for most of the 2013 season, Bilton-in-Ainsty have had a transfer-fuelled winter under new skipper Andy Walker.

Australian Tom Reece has flown over from Melbourne whilst patient batsman Rob Hildreth has signed from Rufforth. Walker’s long pursuit of Long Marston wicket-keeper Simon Lewis failed but he has managed to bring in Ben Aked (Huby) and Tom Lawrenson (Thorner and Mexborough).

Walker said: “We want a Champions League spot but we won’t win it. Hopefully, it’ll be a strong season in mid-table.”

Having risen as champions from Division Two, Sicklinghall have Wetherby League chairman Zai Ali leading their bid to beat the drop.

However the Kirkby Laners are without an overseas, and Ali feels that will hold them back.

He said: “If you look at the table from last year, all the top six in the table had one. We want to win more than we lose.”

Captain Mansoor Hussain believes his Walton side have bedded in and will chase a top four spot this summer.

Hussain does not have an overseas to call upon but he said the side will build on last year’s eighth-placed showing.

He said: “The new look team from last year has had a season together. We can push for a top four or five position. We have a strong enough squad now.”

Aussie Matthew Prosser will be key to Barwick-in-Elmet’s drive for a high-flying year. And captain Gary Bettison has challenged the specialist top order batsman to lead the run count.

He said: “We are expecting to finish in the top half.

“Matthew had a very good season in Australia. He’s going to bring some quality to the team.”

Shadwell hope Sydney bowler Brad Taylor will inspire better fortunes in the summer, after finishing fourth bottom last year.

Taylor plays second grade cricket for Parramatta Club and will be tormenting batsmen with the new ball.

Pace bowler James Hart is in his third year in charge of the first team and he is likely to give youngster Conor Sholoy more chances in the first XI this term.