Barkisland will be below full strength when they mark their return to the Huddersfield League’s top flight this weekend.
Darren Robinson’s men have home games against Moorlands in the Drakes Premiership on Saturday and division-lower Rastrick in the Heavy Woollen Cup on Sunday.
Jamie Summerscales and Jamie Sykes are key absentees on Easter weekend.
Barkisland fought off the challenge from Almondbury Wesleyans to be Championship winners last September and warmed up for this season with a one-sided win over a weak Stayley side last Saturday.
Rastrick host Clayton West on Saturday, looking to step up this season after a number of near misses in the promotion stakes.
Pakistani pro Asif Afridi is a proven match-winner while skipper Jacob Waterson has a couple of signings from Northowram Fields in experienced bowler Zafar Khan and batsman Shakeel Mohammed.
Elland have a new-look side at home to Holmfirth in their bid to step up on last season’s seventh-place.
Jack Hendy is skipper and West Indian batsman Joshua Ramdoo, ex-Jer Lane bowler Keiran Rogers, all-rounder Tom Baxter from Hall Bower and James Lee, a Tasmanian first grade batsman with a UK passport, are among the recruits.
RIVAL skippers Andrew Sutcliffe and Nick Barker are in full agreement that Walsden’s title-winning run has a good chance of being extended this season.
Walsden help launch the Lancashire League campaign on Saturday when they travel to Lowerhouse for the annual Ron Singleton Trophy game between the league and cup winners.
Todmorden travel the same route to Liverpool Road 24 hours later, while Walsden host Burnley in the new upper section composed just of 2018’s elite teams.
Walsden are used to finishing top of the pile, having followed up championship-winning seasons in the now-defunct Central Lancashire and Pennine leagues with success at the first time of asking last year.
They face their biggest challenge yet but Tod’s Sutcliffe has tipped the Scott Street men and Lowerhouse as teams to beat, describing Walsden as “relentless” last year.
Barker said the top section would be as tough and competitive as any amateur league, meaning long winning streaks were likely to be a thing of the past. However, with a settled side he was hopeful of following up last season’s triumph.
The biggest test for Walsden is to find someone equally as effective as Josh Gale to partner Jake Hooson at the top of the batting order. Gale is now pro at Woodbank but Walsden have one addition in all-rounder Elliott Gilford from Tod.
Todmorden will start the season in good heart after warm-up wins in cold conditions at St Annes and Nelson last weekend.Walsden fielded a team containing only a sprinkling of first teamers and lost at Lytham. They had won a game at Northern CC in Liverpool the previous weekend.
BRADFORD League clubs have to wait another week before the start of their season.