A CHOICE BOW in every defending champions’ armoury is the ability to win when you are not at your best.
It is a priceless commodity which several of the leading Bradford League sides of years gone by have all possessed and it is something that Pudsey St Lawrence are also showing signs of being blessed with.
Saturday was a case in point, with St Lawrence overcoming a middle-order collapse to maintain their 100 per cent streak at the expense of rock-bottom Scholes and take over at the top of the ECB Bradford Premier.
Match-winner was Richie Lamb, who made a vital 35 not out after he and captain James Smith (40) rescued the champions from 105-7 – Yassir Ali having taken a hat-trick for the top-flight newcomers.
St Lawrence eventually totalled a decent 194-9, with Lamb then shining with the ball, taking 5-28, with Scholes dismissed for 113, despite Irfan Amjad’s unbeaten 60.
Skipper Smith said: “The secret is we have got a bit of a winning mentality from last year and believe we can win games from any situation.
“We have not really had that before. We had the situation of where we were playing catch-up and having the mentality of trying to catch somebody else rather than we believing we can keep winning to stay out in front.
“Look at the successful teams when Congs and Woodlands dominated for years. They didn’t win in a glamorous manner every week, but always managed to find a result.”
On his side’s start, he added: “We are pleased. We have probably only played at 75 or 80 per cent so far this season, so we have a lot more to give.
“Saturday proved that when we had a sticky patch batting and bowling. But we managed to do enough in both. We can’t afford to let that happen every week as other teams will take full advantage.
“We now we have a target on our backs and teams will be after us. We just have to remember what happened last year and try and go as long as we can without losing and make everyone else play catch-up cricket.”
Previous leaders Hanging Heaton, who play St Lawrence this weekend, suffered a first league defeat of 2016 after losing out in a run-fest with Lightcliffe, for whom Suleman Khan hit a marvellous 121 not out.
It enabled Lightcliffe to overhaul the Tewits’ 320-6 with four balls left, Ian Philliskirk (76) and Alex Stead (58) also in the runs.
Earlier, the redoubtable Gary Fellows struck his second ton of the campaign with fellow opener Nick Connolly also making a century, the pair both scoring 113 in a stand worth 216.
Morley are third after Kashif Naveed struck a brilliant 137 in a 99-run win over Bradford and Bingley, who were all out for 108 chasing the hosts’ 207-8. Paceman Matthew Dowse bagged 4-30.
Andrew Deegan and Sam Wilson took three wickets apiece as Cleckheaton sauntered to an eight-wicket win over New Farnley, who were dismissed for just 118.
Ex-Pudsey Congs spinner Kez Ahmed (5-24) wreaked havoc against his old club as Woodlands claimed an impressive 183-run win after the visitors collapsed to 130 all out.
Earlier, captain Tim Jackson (97) top-scored for Woodlands.
Dan Hodgson (78) and Greg Pickles (70) put on 130 for the third wicket as Farsley saw off winless East Bierley by 12 runs.
Championship A leaders Batley maintained their 100 per cent record thanks to a two-wicket win at Baildon with five balls to spare.
The most telling contributions arrived from Muhammad Tahir (4-39), Aqsad Ali (4-33), and captain Simon Bailey (47).
Jake Wray (53) and the experienced Damon Gormley (48no) helped Yeadon triumph over Liversedge in a game which saw James Goldthorp complete 10,000 Bradford League runs.
Birstall are still winless after losing out by one-wicket to Hunslet Nelson, for whom Chris Anderson (65) starred.
Khalid Usman (5-56) couldn’t stop Ossett losing out by eight runs to Undercliffe.
Johnathan Booth (69no) and overseas player Matthew Bremner (45no) shared an unbroken second-wicket stand of 142 to help Townville move 12 points clear at the top of Championship B after a big win over Altofts. Nadim Huissain (4-15) and Jack Hughes (3-21) were in the wickets.
In-form Hamid Khan (92) excelled, as Methley, in second, overcame Spen Victoria by 95 runs.
Wakefield Thornes maintained their hot streak in the ECB Yorkshire Premier League South, beating Treeton by 90 runs, Matt Varley taking 4-26. In Premier League North, York lost their top two clash with Hull, while James Logan took 6-44 for Yorkshire Academy as they beat Acomb.