Halifax Parish Cup: Star men back for holders

Warley's  Luke Duckitt playing against Booth last season
Warley's Luke Duckitt playing against Booth last season

Warley will be encouraged by the return of three quality players as they start their defence of Parish Cup this weekend.

The Atkinson brothers, Ben and Chris, are back from football duties with Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division champions Farsley Celtic and opening bowler Luke Duckitt is free from work duties for the first time this season.

“They are three big players for us and it increases competition for places,” said James Cooper, who has taken over as skipper because last season’s cup and T20 winning captain Matthew Whitworth has joined the Fire Service.

Wicketkeeper Whitworth is also available this weekend ahead of a four-week spell when he can’t play.

Warley have won two of their opening three league games, the latest coming last Saturday in an eventful home game against this Sunday’s cup hosts Mytholmroyd.

The tie is the most attractive fixture of the first round but Cooper’s sights are by no means fixed on Sunday with a similarly tricky trip down the Calder Valley 24 hours earlier to champions Booth.

While Warley showed themselves to be a good side in knockout competitions last summer, Cooper believes they have enough talent in the club to mount a real push for the title.

“It’s a massive weekend for us and they are obviously two very good sides we are playing,” he said.

Booth have lost two of their first three league games but Cooper said Booth would not panic after their slow start and would be confident of coming with a settled side over the course of a long season.

However, he felt the title was a realistic target for Warley.

“Everyone will have selection issues from time to time but we have had a dominant second team and two or three players have already show this season that they are capable of stepping up,” he said.

“A lot of our players were at the club as 10 and 11-year-olds and were all successful at juniors. It would be nice to have a really good go at the league this season and I think we will do.”

Cooper indicated that a trip to Mytholmroyd had been far from the top of Warley’s wish list ahead of the cup draw early in the year. “We have not got a good record down there and it is a draw we would quite like to have avoided,” he added.

Last year’s beaten finalists Triangle host Oxenhope while champions Booth should have a straightforward task away to Cullingworth.

There is a derby clash between Bradshaw and top flight new boys Illingworth St Mary’s while Augustinians will head to Blackley in their first cup match since rejoining the league.