There was only one winner in a royal rumble of all-rounders on Saturday as a star turn by Nick Brook steamrollered Otley on the opening weekend.
With six of the league’s top all-rounders on display in the match, the Burley talisman followed a devastating spell of 6-38 with 80 not out to gift his side a win by nine wickets and get their season off to a flier.
“He’s obviously one of the top players in the league and has done it for years,” said new skipper Ed Brown. “He’s one of those players people are wary of, and when he’s got the new ball in his hand on a green wicket, it makes people change the way they bat.”
Otley found themselves 8-4 inside the first few overs, and, despite a last-wicket stand of 46 between Nathan Goldthorp (60) and George Hanson (12*), they never recovered.
“He’s got a knack of getting wickets early, which obviously puts the opposition under pressure.
“We knew that Otley have lost three of their top players and that if we could get on top of them, they’d feel that pressure, and we managed to do that.”
Having opened the bowling, Brook came out to open the batting with intent, and along with youngster Dan Revis (54), Burley knocked off the runs required inside 22 overs.
“He’ll say so himself that he maybe hasn’t got the number of runs he should, but when he does they always seem to be really important runs.”
The new-look Burley side featured three new players on last season’s squad, including former Otley spinner Nicky Bulcock, who Brown says offered some inside information on his former team-mates.
“He was brilliant during the week,” Brown said. “We like to go into games with plans for certain players and Nicky was really helpful on that front.
“We were proactive for a change in identifying the sort of players we needed and going out and getting them as early as we could. The lads we’ve brought in are young, sociable lads and they’ve really changed the feel of the club off the field.”
With a resounding win against last season’s runners-up under their belt, Brown says the club have no doubts as to what their aspirations should be this season.
“There are four or five really strong teams in the league this year, but I think we can win the league if we manage to get some consistency and keep working hard in training.”
One team they would have to leapfrog is last season’s champions Beckwithshaw (277-8), who piled on the runs at Collingham (108). Leeds Bradford MCCU starlet Steve Bullen provided the backbone of the innings with a classy 94.
Another team likely to challenge is Bilton (259-7), who saw off new boys Colton (226) by 33 runs thanks in the main to mealy-mouthed duo Kiel Van Vollenhoven (71 and 6-55) and Mastahsan Ali Shah (66*). Colton skipper Dan Gautrey (66) led the way for Colton.
There was a thriller at Rawdon, as the home side accumulated 207-9 before keeping Pool five runs short of the total at 202-9.
David Amos produced a magnificent spell of 5-32 to rip out the Rawdon top order, but defiance by Jake Hodges (68) and Andrew Doidge (37) gave the innings momentum.
A well-made 40 for Dave Paynter and 45 for Patrick Dixon looked to be putting Pool on the way to victory, but eight wickets shared between spinners Bradley Reeve (5-41) and Doidge (3-47) clawed the game back for the home side.
Despite a lower-order collapse, Horsforth (182) won out over Ilkley (166) thanks to contributions from most of the top order. In reply, Jibreal Malik (69) was the only major contributor.
Newly promoted Guiseley (135-5) made light work of the chase at North Leeds (132) thanks to skipper Stewart Smith (46).
Damon Reeve had earlier ripped out the tail with a spell of 4-9.
champions Kirk Deighton showed their determination to retain the Wetherby League crown as they dished out a 42-run victory over Scarcroft on the opening day of the season.
Captain Richard Ward led from the front with an innings of 88 as Deighton made a seizable 232-8 on their home track, Gavin Mills chipping in with 42.
Simon Dwyer ensured victory went the way of the champions with a five-wicket haul as Scarcroft were dismissed for 190 in reply.
Bilal Shahid put his case forward as a leading all-rounder in the top division with 64 and 5-47 for the losing side.
Rufforth produced a devastating display at fellow Division One newcomers Ledsham to start off with an eight-wicket win.
Hosts Ledsham fell from 47-0 to 87 all out as Jim Ledgeway (4-4), Richard Exley (3-10) and Cameron Sandeson (3-36) struck.
Ben Lodge (40) and Phil Charlton (35) saw Rufforth home.
James Stockton compiled an unbeaten 83 as his Garforth Parish Church side were too strong for Fred Fleetwood Cup holders Barwick-in-Elmet, who were bowled out for 107.
Shadwell also claimed maximum points after reaching 215-8 against Hillam and Monk Fryston, thanks to 65 from Cameron Edwards.
Martin Pugh’s 48 was the only highpoint in Hillam’s meagre reply of 93.
Elsewhere, South Milford (169-8) slipped to a five-wicket defeat at Old Leodiensians (171-5) with Chris Butt starring for the victors.
Headingley Bramhope salvaged a point in their top tier debut at home to Sicklinghall. Tom Ryszkowski took three wickets and scored a match-winning 29 not out as Sicklinghall scrambled past 104 with three wickets remaining.
In Division Two, Scholes (233) claimed a nail-biting win over Kirk Hammerton (225), who fell nine runs short. Gul Hussain was the star with 85 and four wickets. Kieran Grant claimed five for Hammerton.
Division Three winners Kippax Welfare beat Crossgates by 45 runs; Meanwood smashed 219 in beating Sherburn Eversley (136); Saxton’s 189-9 was 37 runs too many for Long Marston while Headingley Bramhope A could only muster 72 at Thorner Mexborough (74-6).
Birstwith produced a devastating display to annihilate Spofforth by 10 wickets on the opening day.
The hosts needed just 3.1 overs to wrap up victory after dismissing the visitors for 42.
Pete Hardisty’s 4-13 led a destructive bowling effort which saw Spofforth ousted in 23.2 overs.
Jonathan Millward (23no) and Tom Croston (12no) then wasted little time in seeing their side to a thumping win.
Champions Ouseburn enjoyed a seven-wicket triumph at Alne.
Chris Morrison’s early wicket gave the hosts a perfect start tbefore Pete Carr (66) provided a rearguard to the Alne innings.
However, three wickets apiece for Alex Heptinstall (3-37), Jamie Bullivant (3-20)and Goldsborough recruit Ben Mackrill (3-12) dismissed the visitors for 147.
Sam Parker (49) and captain Adam Fisher (44) put on 94 for Ouseburn’s opening stand as they cruised home in 23.2 overs.
After last year’s near miss, Darley showed their credentials as Chris Gill’s century launched them to victory over Knaresborough Forest. He hit eight sixes in his 115 to help them to 292-6, with Brad Stephens adding 76. Forest wicketkeeper Craig Robson made three stumpings before they finished 52 runs shy with overseas star Aaron Brunner making 60.
Sam Dabin top-scored with 71 before Hampsthwaite made a successful defence of 213-7 against West Tanfield.