GREAT Habton will begin the Derwent Valley Cricket League season aiming to go one better than last year and lift the division ‘A’ title.

League fixtures begin a week on Saturday but some clubs start early, with Home Guard Sunday Cup ties scheduled for this Sunday.

The top tier may have lost Mulgrave – promoted to the Scarborough Beckett League – but it looks strong this season, despite the withdrawal of Oriel, who have folded.

Great Habton, the 2013 runners-up, hope to follow Mulgrave up but they are likely to be challenged by Muston, Forge Valley 3rds and Hospitals/Rugby Club among others.

Depending on senior teams taking their players, Whitby 3rds, Sewerby 3rds and Brompton 2nds could also put up a challenge. Promoted Lockton and Flamborough looked strong last season, too, and they should have strength in depth as they are each running only one team.

In the Atlas Ward Cup, for division ‘A’ teams, Great Habton, 2003 finalists, entertain Brompton 2nds. Muston had been drawn at home to holders Oriel but will now get a bye.

Division ‘B’ looks fairly even.

Bridlington 3rds will want to continue the form with which they finished 2013, while Kirkbymoorside 2nds and Flixton 3rds will be hoping to rediscover table-top standards, both having fallen away last year due to call-ups by their senior teams.

Sherburn 2nds will hope to do better with a young team, while Snainton and Filey 2nds may be dark horses for back-to-back promotions.

Nawton Grange 2nds have a new captain in youngster George Bentley, who will be assisted by last year’s skipper, Neil Ward.

In the Welford Cup, for division ‘B’ sides, 2013 runners-up Wold Newton 2nds host Seamer 3rds in the preliminary round no doubt hoping to go all the way to the final again.

Division ‘C’ appears wide open, more so following Hunmanby’s decision to fold. Their strongest side would have had title hopes but they have decided they do not have enough players.

Cayton 3rds, along with Ravenscar 2nds, Scalby 3rds and Muston 2nds, could be strong. Thornton Dale 2nds and Wykeham 3rds are capable of beating those teams but are among the outsiders going into the season.

Wykeham 3rds hope to avoid successive wooden spoons.

The league season begins on Saturday, May 3, with all games starting at 1.30pm. Clubs agreed this earlier start time could help increase playing numbers as late finishes on Saturday evenings meant some players could not turn out.

The league has 10 teams in division ‘B’ and, following Oriel’s and Hunmanby’s departures, nine in divisions ‘A’ and ‘C’, with all teams playing each other home and away on Saturdays, though some fixtures can be rearranged for Sundays.

The Home Guard Sunday Cup, for all 29 teams, kicks off the season, with first round ties being played this weekend.

These fixtures include Snainton v Wold Newton 2nds and Wykeham 3rds v Nawton Grange 2nds.

Holders Mulgrave are no longer involved due to their promotion. Last year’s finalists, Bridlington 3rds, have a bye into the second round where they will visit Muston or Kirkbymoorside 2nds.

Favourites Great Habton also have a bye to the second round, when they will go to Forge Valley 3rds or Thornton-le-Dale 2nds.

New to the league this year are monthly awards to the batsmen with the highest scores and bowlers with the best returns. Sponsorship comes from Dale Power Solutions, Eastfield.