History is against an SBCI repeat

Skipper Jamie Sykes is keen to break the mould and see his SBCI side win back-to-back championships in the Foster’s Halifax League.

Surpisingly, no side since Copley in 2001 has retained the silverware in spite of several starting favourites to follow up.

Sykes believes his side are capable of bucking that trend in spite of the loss of star batsman Jamie Summerscales to Barkisland.

His confidence is based on a having a young, improving group of players and the fact that SBCI were able to win the league’s second major trophy, the Parish Cup, as well as the league in 2012.

“I think that we should be contenders for the league and cup again,” said Sykes, who led from the front by topping the Premier Division’s bowling averages last season.

“We are quite strong in the bowling and although we have lost Jamie we have other batsmen capable of filling in.”

Sykes is well aware that SBCI are there to be shot at, with promoted Clayton the first to have a go at The Astleys tomorrow. However, he believes the club’s next crop of promising players - the likes of George Hampshire, Lewis Firth, Matty Schofield, James Pettinger and Ed Keighley - can help to keep SBCI at or near the top in the years to come.

SBCI topped the Premier after winning the middle section the previous year and Sykes believes Mytholmroyd, last year’s Division One champions, could be a big threat along with last year’s runners-up Booth.

Booth host Blackley in their opening match and skipper Robert Laycock knows it will take only a little improvement to turn last year’s near misses into trophy successes.

The Broadfold Park outfit suffered a surprise Parish Cup semi-final defeat to Low Moor and were league leaders going into the final match of the season, only to be pipped at the post by SBCI.

Laycock said: “Considering how well we played last season it ended up being a bit disappointing.”

Booth are keen to hit the ground running against a Blackley side boosted by the return of batsman Reece Jennison from Hartshead Moor.

Booth’s opening batsman Matthew Brown won’t be travelling down from Newcastle for games this season,.