It was an uncertain start for many clubs, adjusting to green pitches after hard artificial surfaces indoors and facing absences because of the Easter weekend and overseas players not yet arrived, but by and large the tough got going – especially those whose sights are set on the Premier Division next year. 
Aston Hall v Rockingham Colliery 
Aston Hall were disappointed not to maintain a promising start last season and early on in their innings it seemed to be a similar picture. Ali Ahmed and Mark Barnard made a steady opening stand but it was followed by a flurry of wickets as Rockingham’s overseas Aquib Sheikh reduced them to 88-5. Wicket-keeper Nathan Ward began to pull them round and Josh Coulson (54*) and Rob Ward (46) completed the recovery, taking Aston Hall to a very satisfactory 224-9. Aquib Sheikh ended with 3-52 from 13, while Jawad Akhtar had excellent figures of 8-4-11-2, making one wonder why he didn’t bowl more. Rockingham’s innings followed a similar pattern – an opening stand of 41 by Harry Grindle and Ben Dalton, then wickets for Adam Clarke and a collapse to 91-5, before Sheikh showed he could bat too, making 41 with 4 fours and 3 sixes in a partnership with captain Andy Baker. Unfortunately for Rockingham, it was too little too late as Tom Coulson and Adam Clarke ran through the tail, bowling them out for 151. Adam Clarke finished with 3-38 from 14 and Nasir Omar 3-35. So, an encouraging win by 73 runs for Aston Hall, with lots of character, and players still to join them. Less so for Rockingham, though clearly Aquib Sheikh was worth the air fare! 
Aston Hall 224-9 (50) Josh Coulson 54*, Rob Ward 46, Aquib Sheikh 3-52 
Rockingham Colliery 151 (43.1) Aquib Sheikh 41, Nasir Omar 3-35, Adam Clarke 3-38 
Aston Hall (12pts) beat Rockingham Colliery (0) by 73 runs 
Barnsley Woolley Miners 2nds v Hallam 
This was a game with lots of points to prove. For Barnsley, Nathan Swift wanted to show that he was worth entrusting with the captaincy; for Hallam, they wanted to show that they had the potential to bounce back to the Premier Division after dropping down last year, when their overseas was prevented from travelling from South Africa. For Australian amateur, Christian Leddicoat, he wanted to show that he was just the man to make the difference, and Will Newton wanted to show that he could make the step-up, after having many promising seasons with Hundall in the Derbyshire County League. And so it all proved. Barnsley, Swift aside, found the going tough. Assisted by 23 wides, they accumulated 168, but it was a total that owed much to the 34 extras and an outstanding innings of 70 from Swift, whom Hallam could only dismiss with a run out. No-one else made more than 17. Leddicoat got two in two when he was brought on and ended with 3-22 from 10. Harman Puni picked up 4-23 from the tail and Liam Mitchell, making a welcome return as keeper, had three catches and a stumping. When Hallam batted, Matty Clegg got an early wicket and Swift caught Alex Hughes, but from then on it was the new boys’ show, as Leddicoat and Newton put on 131 together, Leddicoat playing expansively all round the wicket, with 8 fours and 3 sixes in 86 and Newton, compact and solid, putting down a marker at no 3 with 39*. Hallam made 171-3 in 38 overs and will have been very encouraged by their start. 
Barnsley Woolley Miners 2nds 168 (46.5) Nathan Swift 70, Harman Puni 4-23, Christian Leddicoat 3-22 
Hallam 171-3 (38.1) Christian Leddicoat 86, Will Newton 39* 
Hallam (12pts) beat Barnsley Woolley Miners 2nds (0) by 7 wickets 
Green Moor v Houghton Main 
With a few different results at the end of last season, Houghton Main and Green Moor could have been two divisions apart. As it was, Houghton Main who just missed out on promotion last year had a fairly comfortable win, doing just enough, as they did time and again last year, while Green Moor played well in bowling out their more experienced opponents in 46 overs, but found it more difficult to chase 202 against one of the best bowling attacks in the division. Still, they certainly did not look outclassed. Houghton’s strength is batting down the line, so that while Dylan Smythe top-scored with 60 he was joined successively by others – Yousaf Rehman, Danish Hussain, Simon Ward - so that when he was 8th out the score was 194 and Houghton were in control of the game. Daniel Cartwright and Chris Matthewman took three wickets each, but went for nearly five an over. After an opening stand of 59 by Dan Airstone and Ben Simpson, Callum Johnson, Division 1’s top scorer last year, played a role for Green Moor similar to Dylan Smythe, making 49 in 84 balls, but Michael Bates blew away their middle order just when they needed stability, so that when Johnson was out, Green Moor were 141-7 and despite a steady innings of 21* in 32 balls by young James Christopherson, they fell 25 short on 178 all out. Nineteen wides didn’t help, nor did not using the full overs – they were 18 balls short – but they were up against Michael Bates at his best. Arguably it was his 6-44 in 15 overs that was the real difference between the two sides. 
Houghton Main 202 (46) Dylan Smythe 60, Daniel Cartwright 3-51, Chris Matthewman 3-44 
Green Moor Sports 178 (47) Callum Johnson 48, Michael Bates 6-44 
Houghton Main (12pts) beat Green Moor Sports (2pts) by 24 runs 
Conisbrough v Sheffield Collegiate 2nds 
Conisbrough had an up-and-down season last year but ended very much in the ascendancy at fifth in the Championship, albeit 38 points behind Sheffield Collegiate 2nds who were 4th. Both teams have a balance between experienced older players and very good youngsters. Perhaps Conisbrough were unlucky to lose the toss on Saturday and to be inserted at Abbeydale, where it certainly was not easy early on. Until Jack Roberts made 11 at no 9, there was only Will Scott who managed double figures and he battled his way to 35 off 70 balls before being 9th out with the score 99. Conisbrough only managed one more. Ben Fielding took 3-21 in seven. Lewis Bent took 3-30 in 12 and then there were the teenagers (Owens, Miller and Shinwari) who between them took 4-46 in 19. Conisbrough’s only consolation was that it took a solid partnership between Ed McKenna (38*) and Adam Burkinshaw (26) for Collegiate to get the upper hand and they lost five wickets in reaching their total, with Buddhika Sanjeewa taking 4-43 in 13. Both teams will have better days, but Collegiate are very good at getting people to get them out of tight situations while their youngsters watch and learn. 
Conisbrough 100 (37.3) Will Scott 35, Ben Fielding 3-21, Lewis Bent 3-30 
Sheffield Collegiate 2nds 101-5 Ed McKenna 38*, Buddhiks Sanjeewa 4-43 
Sheffield Collegiate 2nds (12pts) beat Conisbrough (0) by 5 wickets 
Shiregreen v Sprotbrough 
Sprotbrough are a good team who had an awful season last year. Shiregreen are a team who have just been promoted and playing at a higher level than they have for some time, but have made some very astute acquisitions, especially in the bowling department, with Imran Khan from Houghton Main and Muhammad Asif Khan, an overseas student at Sheffield Hallam Uni, joining them. Meanwhile Sprotbrough have also recruited wisely, bringing in Barbadian Sadrian Ward to partner their experienced duo of Michael Threapleton and Scott Mantovani. Unsurprisingly it turned out to be a bowlers’ day. To their credit, Sprotbrough lost the toss but batted with determination to be 116-3. Tom Pepper and Daniel Wright put on 59 for the second wicket, Ash Ward and Sadrian Ward put on 43 for the 4th but it then all fell apart and the next six wickets mustered 25 between them, with Imran Khan taking 5-46 from 14 and Muhammad Khan 3-32 from 15. Unfortunately for Shiregreen their batting couldn’t match their bowling. Umair Tariq made 22 in 39 balls, but when he was out the score was 29-5 with Sadrian Ward having taken four. Imran Khan and captain Hammad Usman then put on 40 together, but no-one else could match them and Shiregreen were all out 86, with Ward taking 4-26 from 11, Threapleton 2-13 from 10 and Mantovani 4-29 from 6. 
Sprotbrough 141 (48.3) Thomas Pepper 30, Imran Khan 5-46, Muhammad Asif Khan 3-32 
Shiregreen 86 (34.2) Sadrian Ward 4-26, Scott Mantovani 4-29 
Sprotbrough (12pts) beat Shiregreen (0) by 55 runs 
Wath v Wickersley 
Wath and Wickersley both have outstanding pedigrees and high hopes. Wickersley have just come down from the Premier Division, and have tried to rebuild their team that was ravaged by Covid and departures last year. Wath have strengthened a side that was already very good, on its day, but disappointingly mid-table in the championship. The clash on Saturday provided very much the best contest of the day, with Wickersley winning by one wicket with one ball to go! However, when it started it looked more like it would be over by tea. Wath were put in to bat and quickly lost three wickets to Ahmad Bashir. James Barnard did his best to stabilise things but it wasn’t until Sam Whitlam came in at 41-5 that he got a partnership going, and even then it was only 33. The score was 74 when he departed to the miserly Mark Cummins. At 96-9 it seemed all over but captain Shawn Hopkins joined Steve Honeyman and they played out the innings, surviving 76 balls between them and taking Wath’s total to a much more respectable 154-9. Bashir ended with 3-40 from 15, Cummins with 2-14 from 11, but overall Wickersley donated 45 extras, including 20 penalty runs – hopefully not a sign of how they hope to gain promotion this year! When Wickersley batted, Johnny Younis and Gareth Purshouse steered them through some early difficulties but it was long-time Wath player, man and boy, Harvey Wootton who helped his new club to overcome his old friends. His 36 meant Wickersley were within 50 of their target with five wickets left. But it wasn’t over yet, not while Rob Barlow and Sam Whitlam were bowling. They got four of the wickets between them, but they couldn’t get Liam Heathcote who batted 42 balls for 29* which was priceless in the situation. With two wickets to go, Wickersley needed 22, with one wicket left they still needed six – and Heathcote hit the next to last ball for four to win the game. 
Wath 154-9 (50) James Barnard 44, Ahmad Bashir 3-40 
Wickersley Old Village 158-9 (49.5) Harvey Wootton 36, Rob Barlow 4-38 
Wickersley (12pts) beat Wath (4pts) by 1 wicket 
by Richard Storer 
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