Yorkshire and Derbyshire League: Parkhead the team to beat once again as new season kicks off
And the 2016 winners of the Mylnhurst Yorkshire & Derbyshire Cricket League will be: Parkhead. Anything else would be a surprise. They have powerful batting, excellent bowling and moreover, they expect to win. Who can stop them?
Holmesfield are again Parkhead’s main rivals. They remain a young and improving side and as has been said before severally, their time will surely come.
Behind these, on paper there seems little to choose between the rest of the Division. Hathersage and Collegiate return, the later after a hiatus of several summers. Will the experience in both sides disprove the maxim that promoted sides always struggle? We shall see.
Totley survived their first summer, but only just and Civil Service also struggled. University Staff will rely on their new crop of overseas students, while Stocksbridge and De la Salle always seem to settle for solid mid-table safety.
In Division Two Calver, who missed out on their return to the top flight by the slenderest of margins, must start as clear favourites to finish the job this summer.
There is something of a dearth of obvious challengers to Calver from within the Division. However, with Hallam III and Centralians dropping down a division, these three may prove the strongest teams by a margin.
Only one team was promoted - TRS. They proved too strong for Division Three, but may find Division Two more challenging. Totley Bent are a ‘new’ team, but in reality are the old Totley II.
Parkhead II strode through Division Three but, like Hollinsend II, cannot be promoted. Hundall - the once mighty Hundall, now reduced to a single team - will hope to continue the improvement shown towards the end of 2015. Medics, reprieved last term, will hope for better this time out.
In Division Three, Telecom Sports should have been promoted last year and this summer, they should do the job with ease. Hallam IV will be up in the mix, Grindleford and De La Salle enjoyed solid seasons last term, but will either team have the strength in depth to mount to promotion challenge?
Bakewell had a poor summer in Division Two, but will prove formidable foes in Three. Coal Aston performed solidly, Stocksbridge II also enjoyed some success last term, but both Coal Aston and Stocksbridge must improve to ensure Division Three survival.
There are three teams promoted to the Division: Ridgeway, Transport and Youlgrave. All are worthy of their places in the division.
Division Four: 2016 will provide the ideal opportunity for Division Three relegatees Dronfield Woodhouse and Sheffield University Staff II to regroup.
Of the sides remaining from Division Four in 2015, Sheffield Centralians II have very capable players but how much they will be drawn upon to support their first eleven will be key.
The veterans of Walkley again represent their best chance of honours. Civil Service II have a nucleus of key player that form a big part of their challenge.
Whittington finished 2015 on a high with success in the Cup after a dismal couple of league seasons, so they will hope for better things this summer.
Last year’s Division Five triumvirate of Norton Woodseats II, Richmond and Chesterfield III have the tools at their disposal to upset anyone in the division.
Lastly but by no means least, Telecom Sports II make the leap from the now obsolete Division Six on the basis of their previous good results. A very difficult division to call but gut feeling says that experience at a higher level will tell.
Division Five: The league welcomes Sheffield Superkings for their inaugural season on the back of some successful friendlies in 2015. Will they adhere to the old adage that new teams are hard to beat?
Coal Aston IV had a near miss in 2015 with their blend of youth and experience, but may suffer from call ups to more senior teams. The same fate befalls Hallam V.