CLECKHEATON chairman Dave Worrall has revealed that the newly-crowned Bradford League champions face a battle to hold onto star turn Tanzeel Altaf.
The overseas all-rounder has been in magical touch all season for Cleck, who retained the Division One title last weekend after beating Farsley and will be officially presented with the league trophy ahead of tomorrow’s final-day home clash with Bradford and Bingley at Moorend.
In Cleck’s last two games, Altaf has shone with bat and ball, hitting a quick-fire 55 from 26 balls in their win over Lightcliffe on August 23, with his leg-spin yielding 5-39 in their triumph at Red Lane last Saturday.
It has been mainly with ball in hand that Altaf has wreaked havoc, with his tally of 24 wickets joint top in the half-season averages with Woodlands’ Chris Brice after taking 24 wickets at 16.13.
It’s fair to say Altaf has been right up there with the best overseas players at Cleck, but amid their title celebrations, they are mindful that they must prepare for a fight to keep him next season, with his efforts having not gone unnoticed.
Worrall said: “He had a terrific season for us.
“One of the problems is he has had too good a season really and many others have taken note of him.
“But we are very hopeful of keeping him.
“We are confident of being able to keep the side together. They might be the odd one (going), but that is it.”
Cleck are set for a roll call ahead of tomorrow’s game, with Ian Wood, not 100 per cent after a cartilage operation, skipper John Wood, who has struggled on gamely, despite an Achilles issue and Richard Whitehurst, who is due to undergo knee surgery, all struggling.
Scotland commitments rule out ex-Yorkshire paceman Iain Wardlaw, with Cleck ‘creaking at the seams’ in terms of current bowling options, according to Worrall.
He added: “I am glad we have got over the line now.
“We battled very well on Saturday and despite injuries, we bowled them out.
“Retaining the title has been a tough ask, but we have achieved it and I am really pleased for them. They are an amazing bunch and they just play for each other.”
Promotion and relegation issues have been resolved in the Bradford League with a game to go, while in the Aire-Wharfe League, Otley need just eight points to be absolutely sure of the title, with the side hosting third-placed Beckwithshaw.
Second-placed Burley must take maximum points at home to Kirkstall, although even then, silverware looks to be Otley’s.
At the bottom, basement boys Ben Rhydding host Rawdon, with the two other sides firmly in the relegation picture clashing with Guiseley hosting Pool at Nethermoor Park.
It’s a two-horse race in the quest for honours at the summit in the ECB Yorkshire League, with Yorkshire Academy currently leading defending champions York by nine points with two games left.
The academy can take a big step towards silverware tomorrow with a convincing win, but they do face a potential banana-skin trip to fourth-placed Cleethorpes.
York welcome sixth-placed Sheffield Collegiate.
It promises to be a nail-bitting finale in the battle to lift the title in the top-flight of the Central Yorkshire League, with both defending champions Townville and arch-rivals Methley currently battling it out.
Both are on their travels tomorrow, Townville visiting Mirfield and Methley going to Ossett.
The destination of the Pontefract League title looks set to be decided next weekend when second-placed Ackworth host leaders South Kirkby,.
But key action for both sides takes place before then tomorrow.
Kirkby, a point clear, host Stainborough, with Ackworth heading to Fishlake.
Defending Wetherby League champions Great Preston, whose star has dimmed in their league silverware chase in recent weeks, will be seeking to get back on track just when it matters in a huge clash at leaders Wetherby.
Third-placed Barwick – who still have an outside chance of league glory – welcome Bilton-in-Ainsty.