HUNTERS ECB Yorkshire Premier League North 
Premier League preview 
The Hunters ECB Yorkshire Premier League North gets underway on Saturday and it looks set to be the most open title race since it was formed in 2016. The competition was suspended last year with only ten of the twelve sides competing in a reduced format but with the title of champions and a place in the White Rose Trophy for the top side and the threat of relegation for those finishing in the bottom two there is everything to play for. 
There is a new points structure in place with sides no longer required to bowl out their opponents to gain maximum point, whilst the losing side will have the chance to pick up points regardless of whether they are batting or fielding second. 
Reigning champions SHERIFF HUTTON BRIDGE have seen some high-profile departures since becoming the first side from Yorkshire Premier League North to convert title success into a White Rose Trophy victory. Former Yorkshire duo Karl Carver and Edward Barnes were key figures with both bat and ball in that success, but both have now moved on. The re-signing of Sri Lankan Dulash Udayanga, the competition’s leading overseas player, is a big boost to their hopes of keeping the title at Moor Farm. They begin their defence against DUNNINGTON who were the standout side last year winning seven of nine matches to clinch top spot in the covid-hit competition. The challenge for Dave Brent’s side is to maintain their form over a longer timescale. The signing of former Yorkshire Academy batter Alec Drury from Driffield Town and experienced ex-Stamford Bridge skipper Matt Beckett will add strength and they could well be the side to beat as they search for a first league title. 
ACOMB host DRIFFIELD TOWN and it is a tale of two batters for the pair who were promoted back to the Premier League at the end of 2019. Joe Dale and Sam Drury are the all-time leading run scorers in the competition for their respective sides but whereas Dale has moved on from Acomb to a new challenge with Beverley Town Drury, who has spent time at both Scarborough and Hanging Heaton (Bradford League) makes a welcome return to, both the league, and his hometown club where Grant Halder has replaced Danny Broumpton as skipper. 
STAMFORD BRIDGE have made some key personnel changes with leading wicket-taker Dominic Rhodes, Ryan Gibson and Kyle Waite all opting to play closer to home and Ryan McKendry taking over the captaincy at former club York. Ben Pearson will take charge of the side and the signings of Leeds/Bradford UCCE team-mates Jack Timby and Will Robertson should bring consistency and should see them again challenge for the top four or better. CLIFTON ALLIANCE are the visitors on the opening day which could mean an early return to Low Catton Road for Oliver Sherwood and the club’s leading premier league run scorer Scott Hopkinson returns from Castleford hoping that the club will build on last year’s results and keep away from the relegation battles of previous seasons. 
William Bates, another of the new captains, will take charge of a HARROGATE side packed full of youthful promise with several of their players having already caught the eye of the county age-group selectors, they like several other clubs will be awaiting the safe arrival of an overseas signing, Ishan Abeysekara who finished as joint YPLN leading wicket-taker in 2019 is set to return. They take on CASTLEFORD who have David Wainwright back at the helm and the recruitment of his former county colleague Chesney Hughes will help bring some experience to another youthful side. 
Two sides with the largest turnaround in players meet on the opening day at Weetwood where YORKSHIRE ACADEMY will entertain SCARBOROUGH, neither side were involved in the reduced competition last year and will do no doubt be keen to re-engage with familiar foes. The hosts new class of 2021 will be keen to impress and join the consistent production line that has seen several players go on to achieve first team honours in recent seasons, and those players who missed out on league cricket last season will no doubt be doubling their efforts to make their mark. Among those set to make a YPLN bow for the visitors should be wicket-keeping skipper Pat Roberts (Barnard Castle) and former Yorkshire seamer James Wainman (Bardsey) who both initially arrived at North Marine Road to play in 2020 but have had their YLN debuts delayed. 
WOODHOUSE GRANGE finished runners-up in both 2018 and 2019 and have been the least active in terms of changes to their squad, Oscar Sugden moving from Goole Town and Simon Tennant hanging up his boots the most significant team news. They begin with a trip to YORK who have been the competition’s most consistent side having yet to finish outside the top three and that is a record new captain Ryan McKendry will be keen to maintain. The return to the club of one of the leagues leading all-rounders along with the re-signing of Simon Lambert could help spearhead another title challenge, but there are plenty of others to rival the Clifton Park side. 
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