OVINGTON will be bidding to become the first team to retain the HPH York Vale Cricket League title for ten years.

No club has won the crown in successive years since the now defunct Norwich Union completed a hat-trick of first division triumphs in 2004.

Since then nine different teams have been crowned champions with only Hemingbrough managing the feat twice in that period, in 2007 and 2010.

With the all-round talents of Barry Steel to the fore, Ovington are expected to put up a strong defence of their title.

Hemingbrough’s squad has been boosted by the signing of Jonathan Smith from Wetherby League side Garforth Parish Church.

Last year’s runners-up, Bishopthorpe, will be hoping to go one step further with pace bowlers Ian Holmes and Scott Reeves, supported by spinner Andrew Seager, always a threat.

Stockton & Hopgrove, who have always been in the mix in recent seasons, will be led once again by Rich Kerrison. But they will need someone to step up and fill the boots of youngster Matt Durkin, the league’s leading run maker last season, who has moved to the York & District Senior League with Woodhouse Grange.

North Cave, third last year and champions in 2012, are bound to pose a threat and open the campaign today with a home game against Stockton & Hopgrove.

Burn, another side usually tussling for honours, will be skippered by Leigh Adamson and start at Kelfield. Veteran run-maker Ray Adamson has stepped down from the firsts to lead Burn’s second team in division four.

Because first day opponents York RI folded shortly before the start of the season, Thixendale, the division two champions, start their campaign the next week against Ovington.

Fellow promoted side North Duffield, having moved up two divisions in successive seasons face a baptism of fire at champions Ovington.

Newcomers Tadcaster Magnet start life in division four with a trip to Stamford Bridge tomorrow.