Bradford League: Wardlaw is setting the pace again at Hartshead

Hartshead's Iain Wardlaw. PIC: Steve Riding
Hartshead's Iain Wardlaw. PIC: Steve Riding
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HOME is where the heart is for former Yorkshire and Scotland paceman Iain Wardlaw.

After electing to call time on his professional career at the age of just 31, to concentrate on his shop-fitting business and devote more time to his young family, Wardlaw has gone back to where his cricketing dreams began, at Spen-based side Hartshead Moor.

Hartshead bowler Danny Squire.

Hartshead bowler Danny Squire.

Wardlaw has certainly made his mark so far this term with Moor casting aside several barren years to blaze a trail at the top of Championship Two with a 100 per cent record after five matches.

The quickie took a stingy 4-15, well supported by captain Danny Squire (4-30) to help skittle Keighley for 74 in a rain-reduced game reduced to 20 overs per side at the weekend – with Moor triumphing by five wickets to move 18 points clear at the summit.

On Sunday, Wardlaw and Squire were again in the wickets as Hartshead saw off Conference frontrunners East Ardsley in a dramatic one-wicket win, with the feel-good factor growing at Highmoor Lane.

On returning to his first club and his decision to ‘retire’ from professional cricket, Wardlaw, who played for crack Huddersfield League outfit Hoylandswaine last year, said: “It is quite nice going back and playing with a couple of lads I’ve previously played with. Obviously, I have a lot of friends and roots there.

“I made the decision that, with family and work, I should take a step back from cricket and prioritise things and it is a club I have a lot of connections with. It is nice to go back and be able to do that at this stage.

“Instead of looking around for other clubs and getting one or two-year contracts and being away from home, I knew I may have to make the step back to the amateur level at some stage.

“I also wanted to leave on good terms with myself. I loved every single minute of my cricket career and didn’t want to look back and have the last two or three years where I was maybe driving to second-team games thinking I could have been doing something else really.

“I am playing for enjoyment and giving back something to the club where I started everything and it’s quite nice.”

Already this season, Moor have won more league games than they managed in the whole of last year with the championship being the target of everyone at the club.

Wardlaw added: “They had a bit of a tough year and have rebuilt and now have a bit more financial backing.

“I said if I was going back that we needed to set things up and do things properly. We have signed a couple of other senior lads such as Mohammed Zaman, who was a top-quality batter and spin bowler at Cleckheaton and Matt Garside and Ahsan Butt, who has played and got a lot of runs in the Bradford League.

“With myself, we have bolstered the team and we want to be looking at winning the division and pushing further on.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to play for anyone else other than probably Cleckheaton or Hartshead.

“It was either going to Hartshead or back to Cleck where I have a lot of friends. But I just thought it wasn’t quite right for me, as I have roots at Hartshead and they want to see the club go forward. With me being there, it is going to help them sign players and it has paid off already.”

Rain ravaged events on Saturday, with the big winners being Hanging Heaton (161-4), new leaders after a 77-run win over previously unbeaten Woodlands (84) in a game reduced to 20 overs a side.

Jonathan Booth (48) helped Townville (180-6) go second after their fourth straight victory, at Lightcliffe (151-9)

New Farnley (108) disappointingly lost by 67 runs to Bradford & Bingley (175-7), their fourth loss on the spin.

Batley dropped to the bottom. Their match at East Bierley was called off without a ball being bowled as was the match between Pudsey St Lawrence and Farsley.

Ralph Middlebrook.

Pudsey Congs plotting another big upset at league leaders Hanging Heaton