UPPER Airedale’s Junior Cricket Association has undergone another year of growth.

Chairman Terry Thompson, addressing the annual meeting at Sutton Cricket Club, said: “Junior cricket within ‘Upper Airedale’ has boomed beyond all our expectations.

“Airedale and Denholme are back in the fold, while Addingham and Burley are newcomers, and girls’ cricket is also on the up, with Oakworth and Burley forming teams.

“We had 24 clubs (two more than 2022), 82 teams (a record, which was 17 more) and 1,023 registered players (up 202), and we had an 82 per cent completion rate for matches.

“As far as softball is concerned, we had 20 teams from 17 clubs, and had 343 in the development programme - an increase of 111.

“We had 94 girls, whereas we only had 61 in 2022, while 72 10-year-olds and 63 11-year-olds have started their cricketing journey with us as softball players, playing at under-nines due to them being new, and one in three players within the association are now softball players.

“In all we had 200 newcomers, with 65 being under-nines.”

However, it could be that growth has somewhat levelled off for 2024 as 83 teams have given their provisional agreement to take part this season - an increase of three, although Cowling have been admitted.

Thompson added: “Tony Fordham and Ian Walker came on board, but my position of general secretary - I want to stand down - remains without a successor. We also need a media officer and purchasing officer.”

Meanwhile, Walker admitted that they were very short of volunteers.

Thompson added: “Financially we are solvent, thanks to sponsorship by Bentley Drains, who are our major partner.”

Treasurer David Allen reported a loss of £823.88 on 2023, but that can be accounted for by £300 being due from Five Rise Contractors Ltd and £558.23 due for cup trophies from the 2022 season.

Expenditure increased by £2,320 from 2022 due to the increasing cost of trophies, so subscriptions from clubs were increased (the first rise in 10 years) from £55 to £60 per team, and from £35 to £40 for any under-nine teams.

The league’s festival will take place at Skipton Cricket Club on Sunday, June 16, while the cup finals, at various venues, are pencilled in for June 30 (under-nines and 13s at Settle), July 7 (under-11s and under-15s) and August 25 (under-18s).

Meanwhile, Tom Bates, from the YCB, has encouraged UAJCA clubs to enter an indoor league next winter.

Among the rule changes passed were that the under-nines cup finals should involve eight players on each side, and that the penalty for wickets lost at under-11s should be five runs and not eight.

Bonus points will be revamped in pairs cricket, with four points for a win and three batting points and three bowling points also being available.

Coloured clothing will be allowed, but teams are warned not to use either red or burgundy gear as a red ball will be use throughout the season.