Birchencliffe keen to join Halifax League

Birchencliffe Cricket Club, Huddersfield.
Birchencliffe Cricket Club, Huddersfield.

Birchencliffe CC are keen to follow this year’s arrivals Upper Hopton and switch to the Foster’s Halifax League from the Arrow Huddersfield Central League.

The Central League is haemorrhaging clubs at an alarming rate and Birchencliffe,based a cricket ball’s throw from Ainley Top roundabout, want to join the Halifax League for 2016.

They have attempted to fast-track a move by telling the Central League they are resigning at the end of this summer’s campaign.

That is a gamble because if they fail to get into the Halifax League at the AGM in November they might have no competition to play in.

Halifax League secretary Neil Myers said Birchencliffe had applied to join the league but had been given no guarantees about their application.

However, Birchencliffe are no doubt encouraged by Upper Hopton’s application. They are only just outside the Calderdale boundary and that their facilities are thought to be of a reasonable standard.

One possible stumbling block is the lack of a junior set-up - an issue Myers said Birchencliffe would address.

They also share their facilities with Lindley Swifts ARLFC, whose ground is partially sited on the cricket outfield.

Myers added: “ We are speaking to them and will pay them a visit once the season has started.

“If they meet the criteria, they will be invited to make a presentation in October and we will vote at the AGM in November.”

The Halifax League is set to have 30 clubs this year with sections of 12, 8 and 10 teams.

Myers said having 11 teams in Division Two would not be considered a problem.

“We are committed to having a premier division with 12 teams playing 22 games and a middle section of eight teams playing 21.

“We would like a bottom division of 12 teams playing up to 22 games.”

The Halifax League lost a club early last season when Stainland folded and Augustinians, King Cross and Salendine Nook have also left in recent years.

The Halifax League has had an influx of former Bradford Central League clubs over the last 12 years, starting with Thornton. Last year Cullingworth joined from the Craven League.

Birchencliffe’s application comes against the backdrop of the introduction of a pyramid system for Yorkshire cricket, starting in 2016.

The Halifax League is among those waiting to see where it will fit into the pyramid, which in West Yorkshire will have the clubs in the top division of the Bradford League at its summit for starters. Some leagues are opting out.

While the system is designed to provide a pathway for the best players and strongest clubs to progress to climb to the top, there is speculation some ambitious clubs may attempt to switch leagues to start as high up the pyramid as possible.

Blackley have re-signed two players from fellow Halifax League Premier Division side Mytholmroyd, Barry Hawksworth and Chris White.

Hawksworth is a batsman and White a swing bowler who has twice figured prominently in the league bowling averages in recent years.