Expect the unexpected

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the weather might not have been conducive to cricket recently but the competition in the Yorkshire and Derbyshire Cricket League is expected to be as hot as ever this season.

So who will challenge when September comes in Division One? Will Holmesfield continue on their merry way of battering opposition bowling and strangling opposition batsmen and defend their hard-won title?

Given the quality of their batsmen, Holmesfield must start the season as favourites. Who will provide the main challengers? Several clubs – some familiar to the top end of Division One – others less so, will be looking to fill the vacuum left by Millhouses Works.

Calver, returning to the division, have a wicket machine in Ed Coxhead, who headed the Division Two bowling, but will sorely miss Tom Hilton, who was comfortably their leading run-scorer last term.

Hathersage endured a tough end to 2011 and will be hoping Clint Nobrega can stay fit to lead their bowling attack.

In Division Two, it is the received wisdom that teams relegated from Division One frequently bounce back straightaway. Apperknowle may have had a torrid summer in the top flight, but they are by no means a poor side. In Phil Loughlin they have a match-winner with both bat and ball and you would not bet against a quick return to the top division.

Grindleford, despite having the talented Outrams, have never gained Division One status. Surely their time will come. Perhaps this will be their year.

Another who have never been to the top of the tree are the newly promoted Bakewell, returning to this division for the first time in five summers. They are a team who benefitted – if that is the right word – from the sad demise of Stanton, gaining the Clarkes and Lee Tann. In James Wallace they have one of the best batsmen outside the top division. They have the players to challenge at the top end of the division.

Also returning to Division Two are Baslow, who romped to the Division Three title last summer. Chris Cowley had an astonishing summer with the bat last time out and again will be key to their hopes, as will the bowling of Josh Keer and Andy Hone.

Division Two over the years has always been closely fought. Last summer only just over 100 points separated the second promotion spot and relegation so expect the unexpected!