The 2017 Theakston Nidderdale League season gets underway on Saturday and reigning Division One champions Ouseburn begin their title defence with a trip to Alne.
Last year’s league winners will be led by Adam Fisher this time around, following the departure of Dave Cummings to Bradford League side New Farnley.
Fisher is the club’s returning overseas player and the Australian is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“The loss of Dave Cummings hurts, but we’ve picked up Ben Mackrill from Goldsborough who is a more than handy addition with both bat and ball,” he said.
“We bat deep and our bowling is a definite strength, so we are quietly confident of our chances of giving the top of the table a nudge.”
Alne have been quiet on the transfer front and will be without an overseas player this year.
Alex Buteux has however returned to the Magic Circle, after a brief stint at Bilton-in-Ainsty, and will bolster the ranks for skipper Ric Henley.
Last year’s runners-up Darley have retained the services of Aussie Brad Stephens, a man who took more than 50 wickets in 2016.
Their leading run-scorer of last year, Chris Gill, is retained in the ranks but Stuart Robertson has moved to New Zealand.
The 2016 Atkinson Swiers Cup winners start their campaign at home to Knaresborough Forest.
Last season was one dogged by injury for run machine Aaron Brunner who returns for a third season at 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.
“We are looking forward to going one step further than last season and pushing on to try and make the top four,” skipper Stewart Pyke said.
Promoted Goldsborough are excited to be back in Division One after a two-year absence.
The club continue under the captaincy of Graham Shorter, while Jarrod McPhee returns for his third year on the back of 2,000 Nidderdale runs to date and Andy Ward has also joined up.
Visiting Goldsborough on the opening day will be Helperby, who have signed Kiwi Dylan Steyn and will be looking to press for top spot in 2017.
The club hope to retain a sight screen at both ends of the ground this season.
Phil Newton’s Masham are the other newcomers to the top flight and have made their intentions clear with the signing of Andy Heard from Birstwith alongside the exciting prospect of Dan Woolston from North Yorkshire/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.
Masham’s first test of 2017 comes in the shape of Burton Leonard, a side who have been quiet over the winter, adding just Tom Stanley, an overseas from Australia, who will spearhead their attack with the new ball.
A new electronic scoreboard will see the scores rattle up at West Tanfield on one of the best wickets in the League.
Australian Josh Barrett joins as the club’s overseas player and will sample his first taste of Nidderdale action at home to Hampsthwaite.
The Bears have a rejuvenated squad with additions to both their first and second teams, including Aussie Luke Mannion.
Captain Sam Dabin will be assisted by vice captains Richard Vass and Andy Taylor.
“The new additions and our strength and depth will make us strong contenders this year,” Dabin said.
Spofforth venture into the season with a new look, a new captain in Steve Ward and a New Zealander, Devon Nightingale as their overseas player.
They visit Birstwith in the first round of competition, and the hosts will be looking to push for top honours this season after finishing third in 2016.
Mike Hennings joins from from Ripley, but is the club’s only new signing.
“No players have been lost from the 1st XI so it’s the same group as last season,” captain Jonny Millward said.
“We’re hoping to do the same or better as last year but I think it’ll be a tougher league this time around.”
Bishop Thornton are aiming to make an immediate return to the top flight following last season’s relegation.
Demoted to Division Two last term, the Curlews have signed Matt Varley from Wakefield Thornes, while Adam Newcombe and John Wentworth have both arrived from Wath & Melmerby and Australian Andrew Hyland will be the club’s overseas player.
In the opening round of fixtures, Bishop host Studley Royal who will be led by returning Aussie Michael Litterback.
Pateley Bridge, the other side to be demoted from Division One in 2016, will also be looking to bounce back after a difficult 2016, must do so without the services of talented batsman Chris Langley, who has joined Saltaire.
The Badgers travel to Raskelf on Saturday, the Easingwold Road side having retained the services of Aussie Bradley Clark as they look to improve on their fourth-placed finish this time around.
Promoted Wath & Melmerby will be under the stewardship of 2016 Nidderdale Player of the Season, Bobby Hilton.
New recruits include including Tom Hogg (Thirsk) and Mitchell Cross, the club’s first ever overseas player.
“We all want one thing, and its only one promotion away,” skipper Hilton said.
Wath begin their season away at Dacre Banks who are re-united with 2015 overseas star Mitchell Hearn, scorer of a club record five centuries in all competitions two years ago.
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.
They entertain Scotton, who boast William Cunningham as their overseas player, on the opening day.
Ripley will be led by local journeyman James Keane who returns to the club after a spell at Spofforth and more recently Knaresborough.
They get their campaign underway with a trip to Blubberhouses.
Markington and their Aussie import Matt Robertson play host to Newby Hall, who hope to secure the services of Gerhard Rautenbach as this year’s overseas ace.