LAST September, when Otley won their 15th Airedale & Wharfedale Division One title, thoughts quickly turned to 2020 to ensure they successfully defended their crown in their 200th year as a club.

But, lockdown struck, meaning plans to celebrate such an anniversary were put on hold and the new season seemed that it would be cancelled.

However, last week, to the delight of the Cross Green faithful, the government announced that recreational sports, including cricket, can resume this Saturday.

A fortunate return but with only three months of the summer remaining, how would the league return?

A reduced 11 game campaign ending on September 26 was the answer with certain restrictions in place like, hygiene breaks every six overs/20 minutes, will be enforced.

It will be meaningful though with promotion and relegation still taking place, all be it, with only the one team going up and down from each division, not the usual two.

A ruling Otley captain James Smith thinks may cause some arguments amongst those teams on the wrong end of it come the end of the season.

He said: "Personally, I am not sold on us having promotion and relegation.

"The rules are the same for everyone though. The only thing that might differ is teams might have to self isolate, if they can’t get a couple of games in then it becomes unfair.

"You could say when you get rained off games in the summer, it equals itself out but that’s over 22 games. If you lose some games this season, you might only play six or seven games."

Otley started training a few weeks ago and Smith is eager to get his hands on even more silverware.

He said: "We are looking forward to be playing. It has been a long winter and four months being cooped up in lockdown. We are all excited to get some cricket in.

"It (training) has been tough with all the restrictions. The lads have not done a lot in terms of cricket practice, only a bit of fitness.

"It has been strange. The season starts on Saturday and it has been difficult to get everyone together, knowing what you can do and how many people you can have there.

"It is totally new to everyone. I spoke to a few of the other captains in the league and they said the same thing.

"We have got the same team pretty much. There is a couple of guys with work commitments and some who are self isolating so they might not be playing.

"We can't use changing rooms or the showers so we will all have to get ready outside which is going to be a bit different.

"I would like to think that we can do well. There are a lot of strong teams in the league who have recruited really well and they are chomping at the bite to beat us.

"We have been the team to beat over the last six years (wining four titles). Every game we play the opposition are up for it so we are definitely keen to win it again.

"It is a shame this virus has put a dampener on our 200th year celebrations which we can’t do now. The only thing we can do is put our best team out and try win the league."