Aire-Wharfe League: Harrogate signings a show of intent from Bilton and Beckwithshaw

Ex-Harrogate man Alexis Twigg has joined Beckwithshaw (Caught Light Photography)
Ex-Harrogate man Alexis Twigg has joined Beckwithshaw (Caught Light Photography)
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Two Harrogate cricket club exports have been backed to light up the Aire-Wharfe League as the sides start to show their hands for the 2015 season.

Former Harrogate captain Ryan Bradshaw has sought pastures new in Vic Craven’s BILTON set-up.

The main aim is to win it and we have a team capable of doing that,”

Vic Craven, Bilton captain

The wicket-keeper will challenge Paul Cannings for a spot behind the sticks, and Craven hopes the experienced batsman can fill the void left by former captain, and batsman, Ryan Nicholson.

Craven wants his side to challenge for the league title, but knows reigning champions Otley, and Beckwithshaw will present stern opposition.

“The main aim is to win it and we have a team capable of doing that,” the former Yorkshire all-rounder said.

“But, the players have to perform better than they did last year. We need a couple of batsman to get big runs and a couple of bowlers to be in the 40 wickets.

“With Ryan coming in, he’ll be really good around the dressing room, and he’s also a level two coach so we are getting him down to train coach juniors every Friday night.”

Will Liddle will replace Nicholson at the top of the order.

Meanwhile, Bradshaw’s ex-Harrogate teammate Alexis Twigg has also been on the move and he has become part of Stuart Hudson’s BECKWITHSHAW regime hoping to wrestle back the title they lost to Otley last year.

Hudson has taken over the captaincy from Ben Quick and will begin his time in charge against Guiseley, a side that triumphed twice against the Harrogate outfit last year.

New bowler Mark McEngancy made an instant impression in Shaw’s only pre-season friendly last Saturday with three wickets against Bradford league opposition Farsley.

Batsman Phil Jefferies returns as the club’s overseas.

Pete Hotchkiss has taken the reigns of Shaw’s seconds, who will bid to regain their status in the Reserve Division One after relegation last year.

Ex-skipper Dave Wright’s exit rocked promoted FOLLIFOOT weeks before the new season. But Nick Robinson – who stepped into Wright’s shoes successfully at the start of last year – will once again lead the club and has consolidation on his mind.

High scoring batsman Damien Lawrence has flown over for a second season in England as the club’s overseas, with Robinson pick-pocketing Killinghall for the superstar’s services.

Lawrence smashed more than 1,000 runs in the Nidderdale League last season, and his new captain believes he will be equally adept in the Aire-Wharfe Leagues.

Lincolnshire Premier player Sam Gascoigne has signed alongside Birstwith’s Jim Riley, however Ed Clayton and Dave Mahoney have gone the other way through the door.

Robinson said: “We have lost a couple of key guys, and losing Dave was a bit of a blow for us.

“With the guys that have left, consolidation in Division One would be good. There’s a good depth to the league and no stand out teams for relegation so it should be a tough challenge.”

Alex Fox has been tipped by his captain to continue progressing, and make good use of the club’s new scoreboard. “It’s the first year there’s some expectation on his shoulders,” Robinson added.

Another young player with high aspirations this season is Collingham 16-year-old Jack McGahan. COLLINGHAM captain Sam Anderson has hyped up the impresisve youngster, who famously smashed Saqlain Mushtaq over the Harewood Road scorebox during the club’s Lashings experience last year.

“I expect him to do something this year that will make people stand up and take notice,” said Anderson.

“Last year he came in and played some of the most incredible innings as a 15-year-old. He has done more in senior cricket at 15 than anyone I have ever seen. He changed games by hitting good bowlers for six continuously.”

With the league title thought to be beyond his young outfit, Anderson said a repeat of the Waddilove Cup run of last year was a priority.

Collingham surprised many by reaching final at Otley last summer, before collapsing to defeat.

“We want to finish in the top half and try and get a good tun in the cup again,” added Anderson.

“It’s important we kick on from what we achieved last year. There’s no point doing that and then being dragged into some sort of relegation fight.”

In Division Two, KNARESBOROUGH are hoping the club’s bicentenary celebrations transpire into strong form on the pitch. Captain Simon Bridson is again in charge and has added Oatey Bridge middle-order batsman Joe Priest to a squad aiming to mount a promotion challenge.

Aussie Eben Martin will replace last season’s overseas Dylan O’Malley almost like-for-like, batting at three and offering tweak with the ball.

However, Tom Beesley has left to become a pilot, and Cameron Pitt has joined Nidderdale League side Pannal.

Bridson said: “We finished fifth last year, hopefully we can improve on that and push for promotion. There’s loads going on at the club with the bicentenary and as players, we will be looking to put something back into the club on the playing side.”