The youth is on fire at Collingham. Written off by many as relegation fodder inside the first month of the season, Stephen James’ young side have roared back with two wins on the bounce, including Saturday’s stunning two-wicket victory over title challengers Bilton.
They now sit ninth, 14 points adrift of the relegation places, a gap James is desperate to widen over the next few games.
“Confidence is high at the minute, and, in my eyes, we’ve got three really winnable games coming up,” he said. “Pool, Horsforth and Ilkley are the sort of games you target a bit and I think we could be in the top six once we get the other side of those.”
Having been put in the field on a good batting day at Bilton, Collingham fought back from 149-4 to bowl the hosts out for 185. Bilton skipper Ryan Bradshaw scored 66, and was well supported by Kiel Van Vollenhoven’s 47. Stalwart off-spinner Toby Jacklin took 5-45, alongside a spell of 3-47 by young fast bowler Chris Bridge.
“They’ve both been brilliant,” James said. “Toby is obviously one of the better bowlers in the league and he’s just so good at the death, especially bowling at tailenders.
“Bridgey is probably one of the quickest bowlers in the league now. He’s got 15 wickets already this season and is the leader amongst the younger lads, purely because he’s such a good player and they naturally look up to him.”
In reply, Collingham lost wickets at regular intervals thanks in the main to leg spinner Mustahsan Ali Shah (5-53), but Zimbabwean Kudu Samunderu stood firm, unleashing six fours and five maximums on his way to a classy 84 not out.
“It was as good a knock as I’ve seen,” said James. “Bilton prepare their wickets for spin and it was tricky because they’ve got two of the very best slow bowlers, but Kudu was brilliant.
“It’s such a young side and we’re very confident now, which is a great feeling. The team spirit is as good as it’s been at Collingham because we all spend time with one another on a Saturday night, with the seconds as well.
“If we can get a run going now and finish in the top six that would be a fantastic achievement. That’s our aim.”
The win took Collingham ahead of Colton, who were undone by a spell of 7-31 by Ilkley’s Henry Wilson on their way to 63 all out. Ilkley made light work of the reply and knocked it off one down, with John Hughes hitting 32 not out.
North Leeds are also on the slide, and went down to Pool by 140 runs. Skipper Charlie Bell scored 78 for Pool, who also had Will Cooper (42) and Patrick Dixon (56) to thank for their 251 all out. The visitors were never in the game in reply thanks to opening spells of 4-44 by David Amos and 3-30 by Sam Wilkinson. Further up the table, Otley’s resurgence continued as they beat Horsforth by 36 runs, whilst Burley’s taste for winning tight games continued as they beat Rawdon by 12 runs.
Respective knocks of 47 and 41 for Brook brothers, Richard and Nick, set Burley on their way, along with 40 for Eddy Brown and 47 for Jason Wright. Burley scored 243, pace man Marcus Berryman took 4-46.
Runs were shared all the way down the Rawdon card with no match-winning knock.
Andrew Duckworth top scored with 44, Berryman got 35 and Harry Nicholson scored 33, but the visitors ran out of time, falling two blows short despite being awarded four extra overs.
In the clash between first and third, Guiseley’s 150 all out was never likely to be enough against Beckwithshaw, despite Richard Nichols’ patient 48.
In response, ’Shaw came out swinging, and knocked the total off inside 28 overs. Opener Charlie Stokes top scored with a run-a-ball 34.