PETER Foster, secretary of the Craven League, is staying in office for at least another year.

Keeping a man who has steered the cricket league through what we hope is the worst of the pandemic while also keeping one keen eye on the future is undoubtedly the best possible Christmas present for everyone involved in the competition.

Originally he was going to resign at the league’s annual meeting at Cross Hills Social Club, but his issues are less serious now.

He told relieved member clubs: “Most of you will be aware of the insurmountable number of personal problems, which have eased, and if no-one comes forward to take over as secretary (no-one did), I will remain in post.”

On a sadder note, league chairman Martin Burgess is having to stand down, but intends to carry on as umpires’ appointments secretary.

He said: “I still want to remain within the league but have to take a step back.”

In his secretary’s report, Foster said “what a great advert for competitive cricket” the 2021 Craven League season was.

He enthused: “Three of the four divisions were decided on the last game of the season.

“Thoughts must go to our eternal bridesmaids Bingley Congs. They missed out on the Division One crown by the narrowest of margins as Haworth claimed the top prize.

“Denholme return to the top division after a thrilling win at Gargrave secured the Division Two title for the Stags.

“At one point in the season it looked like the Third Division title was going to be between Embsay II’s and Riddlesden, but as the year wore on Riddlesden stepped up a gear and created space between themselves and the opposition to claim a spot in Division Two.

“Skipton CI II’s had another nail-biter as they managed to keep contenders Long Lee II’s at bay, claiming the Fourth Division title.”

Oakworth were the cup kings, taking the Wynn Cup, Cowling Cup and Manorlands Plate in an unprecedented treble, while Denholme’s Toby Priestley became the first batsman in a decade to top 1,000 runs.

Oakworth's Thomas Fothergill (58) and Riddlesden's Mohammed Zulfiqar (56) were the only bowlers to pass 50 wickets, with the latter taking his at an astonishing average of 5.66.

As for 2022, Foster said: “The vaccine has proved to be a game-changer in the battle with Covid, but there is another variant, Omicron, and it really is a case of ‘watch this space’.

“We have a five-month lead-in to next season and if it proves that there will be more restrictions, the Craven Cricket League will once again rise to the challenge and meet them head on.

“One exciting aspect of next season is the Manorlands Plate becoming a One Hundred competition.

“If you haven’t yet seen a game, it is very exciting but make sure you are all up to speed with the rules, including 10 balls from one end.”

He added: “Make no mistake, grass-roots cricket is evolving, we must go with it and embrace change wherever we find it.”