NOT TOO many people would have predicted that Morley would be ahead of the likes of Pudsey Congs and East Bierley with one third of the Division One season almost completed.
But that’s the welcome reality for the Scatcherd Lane outfit, able to reflect on a positive first seven games of the campaign, which has yielded three wins and a healthy sixth-placed position.
Matt Baxter’s side lie just five points behind fourth-placed Pudsey St Lawrence after a six-run win over Bradford and Bingley on Bank Holiday Monday.
As it stands, they are making a mockery of those who expected the club to be entrenched towards the bottom of the table ahead of the first ball being bowled after finishing third from bottom last term.
The likes of new signing Matthew West and Kashif Naveed are stepping up to the plate, with the former having already hit two half-centuries and the latter pocketing 6-57 in their opening day win over New Farnley.
On Monday, it was James McNichol who starred with the bat, hitting 56 in Morley’s 135-6, with it left to Nathan Bromby (3-11) to take the limelight with the ball late on to dismiss B&B for 129.
Club stalwart Dave Nebard said: “It’s so far, so good. We had a good win on Monday and actually felt we could also have beaten Farsley and Hanging Heaton this season, but this league is tough cricket.
“But we are doing really well. We had a disappointing cup defeat to Undercliffe, but overall it’s been very good.
“Most people will probably think that if they can finish above Morley, they will retain their status. That’s the perception throughout the league, but certainly from our perspective, we are aiming higher and there’s no reason why cannot finish in that mid-table area come September.
“Every team is capable of beating each other on the day. For us, it’s about playing good cricket and competing and seeing how far we can go.
“Matthew West has settled in really well and been a really good player. He’s a nice lad as well and he’s settled and hopefully will play for a number of years.”
New leaders at the top are Woodlands, who flexed their muscles after Saturday’s inaction with a dramatic 73-run success in their top-of-the-table clash with Farsley.
Pieter Swanepoel’s men were indebted to a remarkable personal performance from Chris Brice, not for the first time in his glittering league career.
The all-rounder rescued Woodlands with a gutsy 50 after the hosts slumped to 44-5 to finish at 143-8, sharing in a key stand with Swanepoel (31no) – Graham Hume taking a magic 5-14 for Farsley.
In reply, Farsley’s top order were blitzed by Safraz Ahmed (4-19) before Brice took centre stage with a stunning 6-16 as the Red Laners were skittled for 70.
Tanzell Altaf (74) and Andrew Deegan (5-36) were the main men for champions Cleckheaton (249-6), up to second after a big 152-run derby win over East Bierley (97), now second-from-bottom.
There was joy at last for Yeadon (227), who claimed a league victory at the seventh attempt in a 40-run win over New Farnley (187) to move off the bottom of the table.
Jake Wray, promoted up the order, did the business for Yeadon with 74, well supported by Tariq Mehboob (50).
Muhammad Saeed then took 4-37 to help dismiss Farnley for 187, despite Nick Walker’s 63.
Gary Fellows (58no) helped Hanging Heaton (90-2) race to an eight-wicket win in under 15 overs against Lightcliffe (86), with David Paynter taking 5-24 for the winners.