A BIT of divine help came to Woodlands’ assistance on Saturday – and just when you thought that the Bradford League title race couldn’t get any more intriguing, it has done.
Pieter Swanepoel’s second-placed side dismissed Undercliffe for 36 in the nick of time to triumph by 136 runs and minutes later, news filtered through that leaders Pudsey St Lawrence’s game at Bradford and Bingley had been abandoned.
The game between the other sides in the Division One championship mix, champions Cleckheaton and Hanging Heaton, was also curtailed by the elements, with the upshot being that Woodlands are now 14 points clear of third-placed Cleck and just one behind Lawrence with two rounds of matches to go.
Opening, Woodlands made 172-6 and as the skies darkened, they ripped through Undercliffe’s card, with Swanepoel (3-12), Chris Brice (3-7) and Safraz Ahmed (3-12) wreaking havoc.
A break for rain threatened to their victory roll, but Woodlands weren’t to be denied, setting up the final fortnight of the season nicely.
Swanepoel said: “I think it makes the title race interesting now. It was a green wicket and we would have bowled first ourselves, but we lost the toss and were put in.
“The guys worked really hard with the batting. Especially Logan Weston, who batted really well. We got a total to defend and luckily, the bowlers managed to bowl them out.
“We came off at 28-9 for a rain shower. And at that stage, you think there is going to be no play when no-one else is playing more. But luckily enough, we got back out and got the wicket quite quickly.”
Assessing the campaign, Swanepoel added: “We have played very well, it’s just unfortunate that in some games we have lost the toss and had to bowl first and have bowled sides out cheaply and not got all the batting points. We have probably lost 15 batting points and when you are playing catch-up, you need these bonus points especially when St Lawrence played a game when everybody else was rained off.
“If you look at the table, we have won 14 and they have won 13 with the same amount of games played. There’s a bit of a flaw in the points system.
“Sometimes, people think after they bowl someone out for say 110 and get the runs easily after winning the toss, it’s a rubbish game of cricket. But you still bowl really well to get a team out for that and you are actually getting penalised.
“But in saying that we have the opportinity to catch St Lawrence.”
Lawrence had restricted B&B to 122-6 after opening with 164-8, while Heaton was well set at 125-1 befre the rain came after Cleck had opened with 235-9.
CLUB secretary Simon Barraclough has set Morley’s sights on ending their reputation as a yo-yo club after returning to Division One at the first time of asking.
Morley moved to the brink of clinching the Division Two title with a 123-run win at Idle on Saturday, on a day when third-placed Baildon suffered a 117-run home defeat at the hands of Spen Victoria.
Skipper Matt Baxter was praised in his decision to declare Morley’s innings at 206-7 with 5.5 overs remaining – no doubt aware of the threat from the weather and the news that second-placed Scholes had romped to a nine-wicket win over Windhill.
George Robson steadied the Morley innings after the loss of two early wickets.
He made a fine 92 and was well supported by Kashif Naveed (46), with Idle’s most-successful bowler being James Massheder (3-62). Idle were then bowled out for 83 just before the rain arrived. Nathan Bromby took 4-20.
Morley’s promotion was mathematically confirmed on Sunday, despite having no game, with the programme again hit by the rain.
On clinching promotion, Barraclough said: “We must apply ourselves, adapt and compete with the bigger clubs in order to avoid the yo-yo effect which naturally doesn’t bode well.”
Morley’s elevation was confirmed when third-placed Baildon failed to collect maximum bowling points in their abandoned game at Hartshead Moor.
Nobody was left feeling more frustrated by the rain than second-placed Scholes. They had bowled Bowling Old Lane out for 65 and were 45-1 when play was washed out.
Victory would have secured their promotion too, although they require just three points to secure second place.
Kasir Maroof was unbeaten on 26 when play was halted with just 21 needed for victory, with Joe Duffy (3-12) and Yasir Ali (3-19) in the wickets.
Baildon were set a challenging 222-9 from their fifty overs by Hartshead, for whom overseas player Fahad Ul-haq top-scored with an unbeaten 103, including two sixes and nine fours.