CRICKET: It’s all to play for in the new South Yorkshire League. Check out your club’s ins and outs

Tickhill v Elsecar - bowler Shahzad Rana. Picture: Barrie Codling
Tickhill v Elsecar - bowler Shahzad Rana. Picture: Barrie Codling

Few seasons have had as much activity behind the scenes during the winter as this year - and the re-organised and reinvigorated South Yorkshire Cricket League is looking forward to the new season with buzzing anticipation.

To start with, the league has expanded considerably.

The former South Yorkshire Cricket Alliance has disbanded and the majority of clubs have joined the SYSCL, expanding the league to nine divisions - with divisions three, four and five being split between East and West.

The league welcomes 18 teams into its fold, all of whom will strengthen and enliven the great cricket community that is the South Yorkshire League.

They will also be in with a chance, as will all our clubs, of pursuing their playing ambitions as far as they can take them, because the Yorkshire League too is reforming after this year.

And the two new sections - North and South - will, for the first time, have promotion and relegation. The SYSCL will be the feeder league to the new ECB Premier League - Yorkshire League South.

The top clubs in the current SYSCL Premier, now to be renamed Championship, will be promoted to the YLS and the bottom Yorkshire League clubs relegated.

So there is everything to play for this year. Last season’s champions Treeton and other top clubs, like Whitley Hall, Elsecar, Wickersley, Hallam and Wath, will not have it all their own way either, as the likes of Aston Hall, Tickhill, Darfield, Coal Aston and newly promoted Conibrough and Houghton Main all see that, with a major effort, they could be entertaining the likes of Sheffield Collegiate and Doncaster Town in 2016.

So, for many, there has been a fervent push to strengthen squads and improve playing facilities ready for the new campaign.

Treeton have added former England U19, Charlie Roebuck, Tom Bates - a left armer from N Staffs - and Doncaster wicketkeeper Jamie Harrison. Luke Bullingham and Danny Kemp are moving on.

Whitley Hall have lost the amazing Jaco Castle, James Brown and Steve Bethel, but have gained Greg Batty from Wrenthorpe and Australian Anthony Wilson.

Elsecar have lost Ifti Afzal to rivals Wickersley, Luke Townsend to Doncaster Town and Rob Jones, but gained ex-Sheff Utd Paul Cummins, pace bowler Saqib Hussain and all-rounder Scott Jones from Penistone.

There is, however, some uncertainty about overseas star Shahzad Rana, who’s been selected for Pakistan A! Hallam will be without opening bowlers Humphrey Emery and Craig Moffat for much of the season, but have gained Alex Hughes from Norton Oakes and New Zealander Matt Newman.

Wath have lost Derek Mitchell, Mark Chambers and Jonathan Scaife but will be joined by Matt Lambert from Treeton and South African Shawn Dyson.

Darfield are making a big push to regain former glories;, they were, after all, champions throughout the 1980s in the Mick Savage era.

Michael Topp, a first grade opening bowler from Melbourne, will be joining new signings Dan Waldron (from Rotherham Town), Adam Wiles (from Staveley) and Tabbasum Bhatti (from East Bierley in the Bradford League).

They see themselves as a young, talented and hungry side who hope to spring a few surprises. Conisbrough and Houghton Main, having sliced through Division One, are eager to do the same in the Championship.

Houghton will have Rob Jones returning from Elsecar, Aussie Liam Rigby, spinner Michael Bates and keeper Simon Ward. Conisbrough have lost Jonathan Redfearn but gained Nathan Smith from Rotherham Town as new captain, Iran Zafar from Cutthorpe, Shaib Hassan, also from Rotherham and overseas Sri Lankan Arosh Janoda.

In other divisions, Whiston PC, relegated from the Premier last season, have retained top batsman Andy Tomlinson and gained Danny Kemp from Treeton and Richard Spurr from Kiveton Park as they look to bounce back.

Millhouses Works have signed Yorkshire League player Danuka Hettiarachchi from Sheffield United, Aamar Khan from Shiregreen and have others in the pipeline, but have lost James Ward and Jabaar Khan.

Kexborough have Danny and Matthew Bowering, Ian Naylor and Tom Winter, but have lost Anthony Scully to Barnsley. Rockingham have A. Baker, S. Atkin and R. Singh from India and Shiregreen have Yar Mohammed from Norton Woodseats and Kalpa Palliyaguru.

Norton Woodseats, meanwhile, will be concentrating their efforts on fund-raising and planning for their new ground which they hope to be moving into in 2016.

In Division Two, Warmsworth have four new players, including father and son pair, Ryan & Kevin Pearson from Fishlake, and Upper Haugh have signed talented wicket keeper batsman Matt Edmondson from Napier, New Zealand.

All in all, it’s a mouth-watering prospect of some great cricket over the next five months.

Why not drop in at your local club to enjoy it? You’d be very welcome!