WOODLANDS are set to play their first competitive game of cricket in over 18 months when they visit Shelley in the Heavy Woollen Cup first round on April 18.

The Oakenshaw outfit are one of the best in the Bradford Premier League, and won the top-flight title in 2019, as well as the Priestley Cup.

But controversially, they decided to pull out of playing in the 2020 season altogether due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Club secretary Brian Pearson said back in July: “We made the decision on health and safety grounds, as we didn’t feel we could take the risk.

“I’ve followed coronavirus avidly since its inception. I’ve listened to both the scientists and also the government, from a political side.

“We moved from two metres (social distancing) to one metre recently and in my view, this was not just so we could all start playing cricket, it was for the economy.

“The ECB did a good job in persuading the government to allow recreational cricket to come back but Stage Four (adapted gameplay with strict coronavirus guidelines) is not full competitive cricket.

“There’s a lot of rules and regulations to abide by and many risks to overcome. We believe overall those risks are too great to take on, with all that’s required to put on a game of cricket at the moment.

“We’ve also cancelled our junior programme on health and safety grounds.

“The (Bradford League) Board have worked tirelessly to deliver the new fixtures but also accept our position.

“I do understand the views of others too, as you have players who are keen to play and some clubs need revenue through the bar.

“But overall, we just felt health and safety overrode that. Covid-19 is still out there and Bradford is one of the areas where it’s still prevalent.”

Elsewhere in that Heavy Woollen Cup first round draw, there is a derby between Cleckheaton and Scholes, East Bierley host Wakefield Thornes, Buttershaw St Paul's are at Treeton, Birstall visit Wrenthorpe, while Gomersal have a bye.

There is also a mouthwatering tie taking place between Hanging Heaton, who last lifted the trophy in 2018, and holders Shepley, who won the last staging of the competition in 2019.