Local cricket: Pudsey St Lawrence face up to their sternest test to date

Oliver Ashford of Pudsey St Lawrence.

Oliver Ashford of Pudsey St Lawrence.

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Come Sunday night, Pudsey St Lawrence supporters may have a better gauge of how the Tofts Road men will fare in 2014.

That’s the considered view of cricket chairman Paul Hutchison, with Saints facing their sternest examination of the embryonic campaign so far at home to champions Cleckheaton, who narrowly beat them to silverware last term.

With respect to early-season opponents Yeadon and East Bierley, Cleck’ represents a step up for Saints.

A nice blend of youth and experience, Saints also face an exacting day on Sunday against visiting Farsley in the first round of the Priestley Cup, with the Red Laners also boasting two league wins from two this term.

Ex-Yorkshire player Hutchison said: “We have played all right so far. We had a decent pre-season and the lads are getting to know their own game.

“We look like a good unit at the moment, but a barometer for where we are will come after this weekend with Cleckheaton and then Farsley.

“Cleck’ had been a good team for a few years. Historically, if you look back, if they had won their first three games in previous seasons, they would have probably won the league for the past few years as historically, they are slow starters.

“They are a mature team who know each other after being together for the past five or six years.

“We are a lot younger, but most have also been together for a while and we have got a decent side, with some talented teenagers and a few older guys.

“In the close season, we got Ollie Ashford back, who had been on Durham’s academy and he has replaced our overseas from last year.

“Yorkshire have taken Jordan Thompson from us this year and we have replaced him with Richie Lamb from Congs and he looks a decent prospect.”

Elsewhere tomorrow, an early-season top-of-the-table clash sees pacesetters Farsley welcome surprise packages Morley, while New Farnley entertain Bradford and Bingley.

Pudsey Congs and East Bierley have the chance to end their winless league ducks at South View Road, while Hanging Heaton visit Yeadon and Woodlands host Lightcliffe. Everything that Beckwithshaw touched pretty much turned to gold last season, but it’s been a totally different matter if the early weeks of the new campaign are anything to go by.

The champions find themselves propping up Division One of the Aire-Wharfe League and will be seeking to avoid a hat-trick of successive defeats when they visit Pool.

Early leaders Kirkstall visit Otley, who have also made an encouraging start and are third, with last season’s two promoted sides, second-placed Ilkley and Rawdon locking horns.

Bilton, runners-up in 2013, go to Guiseley, winless Collingham host Burley and Steeton host Ben Rhydding.

The top two in the Premier Division of the Central Yorkshire League are on their travels with Birstall heading to Wrenthorpe and Scholes visiting Hopton Mills tomorrow.

Townville entertain old rivals Methley.

Harrogate will be aiming to build on their impressive start to the Yorkshire ECB season at home to another who have begun soundly in Driffield.

Castleford hit the road to Appleby Frodingham.

York are on their travels to Rotherham Town.

Yorkshire Academy also head to South Yorkshire at Sheffield Collegiate.

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