AS CRICKET made way for Le Grand Depart at the weekend, it gave Aire-Wharfe League teams a chance to reflect on what appears to be a wide-open race for glory, especially in the First Division.
Rather like in the World Cup, there have been some special moments, some shocks, some uplifting displays by underdogs but so far, no team has managed to dominate, and it would be a bold person who predicted who will lift the trophy in September.
On current form, Burley look favourites. They are on a four-match winning streak and have been the most successful side under the new bonus points system, having picked up 72, ten more than Otley.
They also have two of the most consistent all-rounders in the Division in Aussie Jason Wright, who has returned to club from Ben Rhydding, and Nick Brook, who already has more than 400 runs and 20 wickets. It was this combination that starred when Burley last won the title in 2010.
Otley, who haven't won the championship since 1993, will point to the fact that they have won more games than anyone else – under the old points system they would be six points clear at the top – and they too have match-winners in players like Ben Morley, James Wilcock and skipper James Davies.
And Bilton, with former Yorkshire batsman Vic Craven starting to shine, will be a threat.
All three will be nervously looking over their shoulder at defending champions Beckwithshaw, who made a start to the season Spanish footballers would recognise, losing four of their first six completed and slumping into the bottom two.
But three straight wins, including inflicting Otley’s first defeat, has put them up to fourth, 24 points behind the leaders.
At the other end of the table, it looks like two from the bottom three – Pool, Rawdon and Ben Rhydding – are likely to go down, although Steeton need to halt a four-match losing run if they are not to be sucked into the mix.
Follifoot look favourites to take the Division Two title, with Green Lane, currently in fourth place, still in with a chance of making up the 15 points that would put them into the promotion places.
The tension is likely to be fiercest in the bottom half where only 17 points separate seventh-placed Skipton from bottom side Thackley, who, having lost several of their key players when they just missed out on promotion last year, are battling to survive this time round.
If Thackley’s slump is one side of the changed-squad coin, Horsforth represent the other. They brought in several players with experience at a higher level and head Division Three, having lost only once. That was to Illingworth, who are in second place 11 points back.
Calverley’s determination to bounce straight back after relegation took a knock with a poor start to the season but they have worked their way back to third place and have the quality to earn a top-two spot.
Silsden looked hot favourites to go up when they won their first four games but since then have lost four out of five and slipped back to fourth spot and need to re-group if they are to challenge.