Aire-Wharfe League: Tong Park’s spirits are finally on the upturn

Horsforth's overseas batsman Byron Boshoff. PIC: Steve Riding

Horsforth's overseas batsman Byron Boshoff. PIC: Steve Riding

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spirits at Tong Park Esholt ‘have been raised’ according to captain Gareth Wilkinson after reaching the final of the Waddilove Cup on the back of a difficult year so far.

The Airedale and Wharfedale third division side are dreaming of pulling off an astonishing cup triumph after they beat first division North Leeds to reach the final of the Waddilove Cup.

In what has been a difficult year for the club following the Boxing Day floods, which caused damage totalling £150,000, a cup-final date with Otley is something the club can fully look forward to.

Tong Park booked their place in the final by defeating the much-fancied first division side North Leeds by 49-runs.

Tong Park had set the visitors 155 to win after they had been dismissed after 39.3 overs, but it proved to be enough with North Leeds collapsing to finish on just 105 thanks to Mick Scott and Mahir Ali, who both took four wickets for the hosts.

“The club went through a devastating off-season, particularly the damage caused by the Boxing Day floods which has meant we have had to play away from our normal ground all season,” explained Wilkinson.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air to everybody who’s worked so hard to make sure that the cricket has carried on at all levels at our club. The cup has been something that has been brilliant to enjoy and it’s lifted the spirits of the club, and it almost feels like a transformation at the club. We’re going into the final to enjoy ourselves, much like we did in the semis. It’s the first time Tong Park have been to the final since 1990 and it’s something people can look forward to – watching the team do the club proud.”

Tong Park will face Otley in the final after the Division One leaders saw off fellow first division outfit Burley-in-Wharfedale by six wickets in the other semi-final. Otley chased down Burley’s 208 after 40.2 overs with David Hester scoring a half-century. Otley will now go into the final as massive favourites, but will be warned not to underestimate Tong Park who have caused many upsets on their way to the final. All sides were in action in Division One at the weekend, and it was a good week all around for Otley who remain at the top of the league after defeating North Leeds by eight wickets – a week to forget for North Leeds following their cup exit as well.

Beckwithshaw remain Otley’s closest rivals after they thumped Collingham by 140 runs, with Alex Lilley putting in a man-of-the-match performance, scoring 52 with the bat and taking 5-26 with the ball. Horsforth are a close third after they saw off mid-table Rawdon, winning by seven wickets.

Overseas batsman, Byron Boshoff, once again top-scored for Horsforth on 77 not out. Kirkstall remain bottom after they succumbed to a 47-run defeat to Bilton. Steeton join them in the relegation zone after they lost by 55-runs to Burley.

Pool, meanwhile, improved their chances of avoiding relegation after they beat Ilkley by nine wickets, with Billy Whitford scoring 76 not out for the victors.

WETHERBY LEAGUE

Richard Ward produced a spellbinding performance to keep his Kirk Deighton side nine points clear at the top of the Wetherby League in a 32-run win over Barwick-in-Elmet.

Having rescued a toiling first innings with an unbeaten half century, the captain claimed six wickets to sent Barwick tumbling.

Deighton lost four quick wickets batting first but Simon Dwyer (78) and Ward (57no) steadied the ship and took the leaders up to 196-9, with Andrew Styan taking 4-27.

Barwick’s top order was equally fragile and although Danny Leadbeater made 72, Deighton completed a 12th win in 13 matches.

Scarcroft stayed in touch of the leaders with an eight-wicket win over St Chad’s Broomfield, who have been accepted to to join the Aire-Wharfe League next season.

Rohan Irvine compiled a magnificent innings of 148 not out as the title chasers made light work of a seemingly tricky 180-run target.

Chads had been ousted for 179 despite Umar Ishaq (63) and Priyanga Gamage (46), with Ghulam Hussain taking 5-23.

The top two are out in front alone following Bilton-in-Ainsty’s surprise six-wicket defeat at home to visiting Sicklinghall.

Quality knocks from Richard Brooke (70) and Dan Holmes (58no) sent Sicklinghall past 212-8. Recent signing Jonny Ross had made 60 for Bilton, while Miles Lloyd scored 48 at the top of the order.

South Milford required 63 from junior Ben White to make a winning total of 162 against Hillam and Monk Fryston, who were dismissed for just 82 in reply.

Steven Winspear was the pick of the Milford attack as he took 6-32 while Dan White chipped in with 3-35.

Bottom of the league Church Fenton claimed a tie in a thriller against Garforth Parish Church.

Fenton made 149-7 first with John Wilkinson scoring an unbeaten 56 from number seven.

Michael Fisher’s 76 looked to have put Garforth in control but support lacked around him as Church grabbed an unlikely share of the spoils.

However, it was not enough to gain ground in the relegation race as Old Leodiensians took six points against Shadwell, easily chasing 134 with six wickets in hand.

NIDDERDALE LEAGUE

Jamie Bryant claimed five wickets as Ouseburn blew Helperby away to maintain a sizeable gap at the top of Nidderdale League Division One.

Mark Spilman was the only Helperby batsman to record double figures as they were skittled for just 78 in 26 overs. Bryant finished with figures of 5-36 from his 12 overs, while opening partner Dan Lever claimed two scalps.

It took the visitors 12 overs to surpass the target without losing a wicket as Sam Parker (59) notched an unbeaten half-century. Ouseburn hold an 11-point advantage over Darley, who escaped with a three-wicket victory in a battle against West Tanfield.

Tanfield looked to have made a competitive total with Stuart Clark (72) and Adam Hodgkinson (54no) scoring well in a score of 184-4.

Julian Hulbert (4-21) gave the hosts an ideal start to their defence but Brad Stephens’ unbeaten 82 proved pivotal for second-placed Darley.

Craig Robinson produced a performance to savour as surprise package Birstwith moved into title contention with a commanding 122-run success over Spofforth.

Robinson was the mainstay of Birstwith’s 232-8 which saw further contributions for James Riley (41) and George Hirst (44) while Jim Roberts took 5-63.

Spofforth’s reply got stuck in the mud following Pat Gannon’s (42) dismissal and Robinson signed off with 5-10 from eight overs.

Cleckheaton's Qaiser Ashraf appeals as James Smith, of Pudsey St Lawrence, is out first ball in the Priestley Cup, caught by wicketkeeper Mally Nicholson. PIC: Steve Riding

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