WITH 2019 champions Crossflatts having departed to the Bradford League, Bingley Congs and Oakworth are the obvious candidates to replace them as Division One winners in the Craven League.

Congs began their season at home to Haworth Road Methodists and won by three wickets.

However, the match was not without its alarms for Congs, who were tasked with bettering Meths’ 136-7 after the latter won the toss.

Wajid Mahmood (33) and Ian Robson (34) were at the heart of the visitors’ score as pace bowlers Harry Greenhalgh (2-12) and Matty Roberts (2-28) were in miserly mood.

Congs then slumped to 15-4 against Mohammed Ibrahim (2-16) and Tom Kaznowski (2-23) but then Neil Copping changed the picture completely, hitting eight fours and eight sixes in a superb 94 not out.

He found an able ally in Danny Pearson (23no), and the chase was done and dusted in the 27th over.

Covid-19 meant that promoted Hepworth & Idle have had to wait an extra season to play in the top flight, and they seemed in a hurry against 10-man Cowling at Westfield Lane.

The visitors were indebted to skipper Martyn Dalby (41) for over half their runs in their 80 all out, with Mark Harland (4-24), Jonathan Robinson (2-14) and Simon Raistrick (2-13) among the wickets.

Jonny Thompson (21no) then saw the Westfield Laners to victory by seven wickets in the 21st over after opener Jamie Topham had made 23.

Ben Mitchell (4-64) was the stand-out performer for Wilsden, who were dismissed for 94 after Oakworth had made 289-7.

In Division Two, skipper Andrew Dobson led the way for Bradford & Bingley III against visitors Gargrave, making 27 in their 102.

The home side could then only take three wickets after tea as Gargrave cruised home off the last ball of the 16th over.

Cononley lost on an overthrow off the last ball against Bingley Congs II, who needed two to win off that delivery with their last pair at the wicket.

The hosts had made 188-9, with Jimmy Dennison taking 3-43 and Towhid Ali 2-39.

Congs’ Michael Baines and Jonny Teale needed 23 when they came to the crease and made it at the last.

Earlier Dave Hemsley had made an aggressive 56 for the winners, supported by Ali (28) and Tony Teale (26).

Baines said: “Jonny was hit in the face by the ball and we ran one and I called Jonny for a second when the keeper threw the ball over the bowler’s head, with me diving to make my ground.”

Toby Priestley’s 121 was the cornerstone of Denholme’s 204-5 against Eldwick & Gilstead, for whom skipper Arnie Raistrick took 2-22.

E&G replied with 166, Stephen Timperley (53) watching wickets fall around him before late-order resistance came from Raistrick (41) and Jordan Bayliss (37).

In Division Three, Wilsden had to graft their way to 129-5 in their 40 overs against Oakworth II, with Under-17 Saltaire loanee Matthew D’arcy-Brain top-scoring with 26.

Oakworth also found fluency difficult with the bat but won by six wickets with three overs to spare.

In Division Four, Gargrave II made it an unhappy league debut for Hepworth & Idle III.

The new boys were dismissed for just 54, with only two players reaching double figures (Daniel Moore 19, Kamran Azami 14) against a potent attack.

Gargrave then knocked off the runs to win by seven wickets in the 11th over, with Azami (3-24) taking all the wickets to fall.

Andrew Copping failed with the bat but succeeded with the ball for Bingley Congs III at Long Lee II.

Copping had a first-ball duck in Congs’ 91 all out, Rob Stow making a defiant 25 and No.11 Simon Raistrick 22 not out as Neil Kennedy took 7-18

Copping then took 4-33 and captain Simon Webster 2-15, but Long Lee won by three wickets in the 28th over.