Tuesday 19th April 2016 @ 09:11 by Mark Phillip

Article by Martin Frost:

Whilst the Greater Manchester League got off to a disrupted programme last weekend, officials in the newly formed Pennine League will be hoping for better things this weekend.

The coming together of the Central Lancashire and Saddleworth Leagues is, in the words of the new structure “a whole new ball game”.

Following an inspection of 19 of the 24 grounds over the last few days the League have given the go-ahead for a start this Sunday.

Prior to the competition proper there will be an inaugural fixture of the JW Lees Brewery Pennine Cricket League between Norden CC and Saddleworth CC.

This will take place at Ladyhouse, the home of Milnrow CC on Saturday.

In what is hoped to become an annual curtain-raiser to each season, last year’s CLL champions will take on the champions of the Saddleworth League with all proceeds from tickets and on-the-day fund-raising going to the C-R-Y Charity (Cardiac Risk in the Young) in memory of Tom Hardman, an extremely promising player at Middleton who tragically fell victim to this condition.

The opening over will be bowled by league legend Cec Wright, still going strong at the age of 82.

Locally three of our local teams will compete. Ashton face Shaw at Reyner Lane, but at the time of going to press it looks likely that new pro, Sri Lankan Chamikara Edirisinghe, will not have arrived.

Ashton officials will be looking for a substitute over the next few days.

The visitors, bolstered by professional Chephas Zhuwao, a hard hitting batsman who has appeared for Zimbabwe in both One Day and T20 internationals, will be making their first visit to Ashton.

Stayley, who have retained Hamza Nadeem as pro, kick off the campaign with a home tie against close rivals Micklehurst.

What was traditionally a Whit Friday encounter has been brought forward, but will be contested no less keenly. All PCL games this weekend will start at 12.30.

Elsewhere Hyde begin the defence of their Cheshire County League title with a tough home game against Chester Boughton Hall.

The GMCL will be hoping for better weather, with games scheduled for all our local teams. In the Premier Division Denton West welcome Heywood to Windsor Park; Denton St Lawrence have a long trip to Edgworth and Glossop face old rivals Prestwich at North Road.