Aire-Wharfe League: Hardaker excited by dawn of ‘a new era’

Ollie Hardaker
Ollie Hardaker
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new-look Horsforth are taking longer than expected to gel, says new skipper Ollie Hardaker.

The 25 year old has taken over from Leon Harber after a torrid start to the season, with the Brownberrie Lane outfit at the foot of the table after a promising fourth-place finish in 2016.

Hardaker says his team are still feeling the effects of the departures of Gareth Lee, Andrew Robinson and Ryan Sharrocks, and says that whilst their replacements are quality players, it is taking time for the team to settle, an issue he is keen to address straight away.

“It’s been a tough season so far,” he said. “We’ve brought in four new players and, on paper, we thought we’d be up there, but sometimes it’s hard for teams to click and, for some reason, that’s not quite happened just yet. But that’s no excuse. We’re a good way into the season now and no player has scored a league 50, which just isn’t good enough.”

Hardaker is excited by the challenge of captaincy, and suggested the move is indicative of the way the league is going.

“If you look around the Aire Wharfe, there’s a few young skippers now, with Lilley at Beckwithshaw, Morley at Otley and a few others. It feels like a new era, and that’s exciting.”

Horsforth were leapfrogged by their opponents North Leeds on Saturday to go bottom. Hardaker himself top scored with 25 in his side’s 146, as Horsforth found themselves tied down by the left-arm spin of Barry Singleton, who took 3-12 in his 15 overs. North Leeds were never in danger in reply, Ryan Smith striking 64 alongside Andrew Carson’s 33 as they completed the chase four down.

Colton folded to 123 all out against Rawdon to go winless in five. No batsman really got going for the home side in the face of a devastating spell of 5-21 by left-arm spinner Bradley Reeve.

Rawdon made light work of the reply, knocking the runs off in 27 overs thanks, in the main, to overseas star Marcus Berryman, who blasted 59.

Another side shaping up to feature in the relegation battle are Collingham, whose run of form came crashing to a halt when they fell to 73 all out in reply to Pool’s 153. Collingham’s innings included six ducks. In contrast, Patrick Dixon continued his rich vein of form for Pool with a well-made 71, despite the efforts of Toby Jacklin, who took 6-42.

Opener James Brecknock hit a 35-ball 46 for an otherwise hapless Collingham batting line-up, whose chase unravelled at the sight of spin-twin combination Ryan Sharrocks (5-7) and Lee Platts (4-14).

Elsewhere, Ilkley were edged out by third-placed Otley. Number eight Rob Spivey scored 52 of their 136, which was knocked off eight down thanks to 41 from James Davies and 34 by Sam Kellett.

At the top end of the table, a maiden Aire-Wharfe century by Jason Wright had put Burley’s 38-over 233-6 into the ascendency against leaders Beckwithshaw before rain intervened.

The stroke maker took just 67 balls to get to his 100, and was well supported by young opener Daniel Revis, who hit 75 not out.

Beckwithshaw blasted themselves to 51-1 from eight overs, with skipper Alex Lilley unbeaten on 41 when the game was called off. The division’s two other early pacesetters, Guiseley and Bilton, were washed out without a ball being bowled.

Ralph Middlebrook.

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