Champions Otley got their slow starting Airedale & Wharfedale title defence up and running with a nail biting victory at Addingham on Saturday, winning by just seven runs.

Otley’s recent dominance in the Aire-Wharfe’s Division One was undermined by two opening round defeats.

They have won the the title in each of the last three seasons, including last year’s shortened campaign, only to lose to Saltaire and then Rawdon at the start of 2021.

On Saturday, they survived a scare in their defence of a 234 target in 50 overs.

Addingham had got themselves into a position of strength at 169-3, only to lose their last seven wickets for 57 at 226 all out with eight balls to spare.

Stephen Brown was Otley’s hero with 63 in their 233-7 before striking twice with the ball alongside James Davies, who claimed the final two wickets.

Saltaire and Bilton both claimed their third successive victories; Saltaire by 87 runs at home to Rawdon having posted 300 plus and Bilton by 13 runs hosting North Leeds.

Saltaire’s 315-5 from 48 overs was built upon a series of useful contributions, with the feature a blistering 44-ball unbeaten 88 from number six Sajad Ali.

In reply, openers Henry Scanlan (45) and Ben Morley (50) put on 103 to threaten a successful chase, only for wickets to fall regularly once they departed in the space of 12 runs. Mussawar Shah finished with 4-39 in their 228 all out.

Saltaire, promoted as Division Two champions from 2019, are the early leaders by two points from Bilton, whose 219-7 owed much to Jamie Bryant’s measured 59 in the middle order.

In reply, North Leeds were 179-6 and lost their last four wickets for 27. Luke Jarvis finished with three wickets in 206 all out.

Like Saltaire, Collingham and Linton also topped 300 with the bat.

Jack Mcgahan scored the division’s only century of the day from number four – a 106-ball 100 with 13 fours and two sixes – to underpin 303-8 at home to Horsforth.

A mammoth 223-run win ensued as Horsforth were skittled for only 80. Only three batsmen reached 20, with Steve James claiming 4-23 from five overs.

Likewise, Stuart Hudson’s 5-26 from seven overs in Beckwithshaw’s 136-run win over Olicanian, including a triple wicket maiden, marked the day’s best figures.

Beckwithshaw’s win was by no means straightforwards as, having been inserted, they had to recover from 64-5 and 156-9 to post 254 all out.

Max Beeley’s unbeaten 52 from number seven led their superb recovery, but last man Scott Irvine smashed a pulsating 58 off 35 balls from number 11.

Beeley and Irvine shared 98 for the 10th wicket to wrestle back momentum.

In truth, it was probably the performance of the day in Division One as the stuffing was well and truly knocked out of Olicanian, who were bowled out for just 118 inside 34 overs. Opener Tom Starkey made 61, but nobody else made it beyond 17.

Elsewhere, Ilkley won at Burley-in-Wharfedale by 111 runs, bowling their hosts out for 92 inside 28 overs as they forlornly pursued 204.

James Raper top-scored with 59 in Ilkley’s 203 all out.

In reply, Burley could not counter Henry Wilson’s 5-40 from 14 overs having taken the new ball. Harry Brook’s uncle, Richard, top-scored with a consolatory 45 from number eight.

There was also cause for celebration in the Doidge household on Saturday evening. Yorkshire’s BBC radio commentator Jonathan’s son James scored his first career century in a big Rawdon second-team win over Leeds Modernians in Division Three.

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