Priestley Cup final: Fitting trophy send-off for Woodlands favourite

Priestley Cup winners, Woodlands. PIC: Paul Butterfield
Priestley Cup winners, Woodlands. PIC: Paul Butterfield
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AS signing off goes, Sarfraz Ahmed’s final game of an epic 16-year spell at Woodlands proved suitably fitting.

The Pakistani all-rounder saw considerable gloss put on his time at the Oakenshaw outfit by finishing as a winner after Woodlands comprehensively saw off Pudsey St Lawrence by 115 runs in the Priestley Cup final at Spen Victoria.

It ended St Lawrence’s hopes of becoming the first side since Woodlands back in 2006 to do the league and cup double, with the victors winning the prestigious cup competition for just the second time in their club history.

It was a special moment for Ahmed, 42, whose farewell performance before returning to the Punjab was marked by a guard of honour from both sides as he left the field amid considerable applause.

All told, the cup win for Woodlands represented Ahmed’s 12th major honour in his 16th season with the club which he likes to call his own.

Typically, Ahmed made a contribution, taking 2-23 to help dismiss St Lawrence for a disappointing 99 after Woodlands opened up with 214-9.

On a sweet finale for Ahmed, Woodlands secretary Brian Pearson said: “It was sentimental after doing Saffy’s benefit on our ground last week. We made a speech at the end of it and were all in tears.

“The Priestley Cup win just finishes off a fabulous career for him with us.

“We consider Saffy as irreplaceable – his time here has been magnificent for him and us. We will never get another Sarfraz Ahmed.

“To see all the players and crowd applaud him off was magnificent. To finish things off with a cup in his hand was tremendous.

“We have had other great assets as well. We still have Bricey and have had Pieter Swanepoel and Tim Orrell and they are all up there having given long service and Saffy is up there with them.”

After winning the toss and electing to bat, Woodlands made a solid start, with captain Tim Jackson (41) and Sam Frankland (44) laying the platform with an opening stand of 73.

Woodlands then started to lose wickets regularly and had work to do at 153-6, but the glue to the innings was provided by Logan Weston, who stuck in with a key 49, with Scott Richardson making a useful late 24.

Replying, St Lawrence were never at the races, with Mark Robertshaw dismissed by Ahmed, while Adam Waite, Barrie Frankland, captain James Smith and Chris Marsden all out cheaply with the Pudsey outfit eventually all out for 99.

Spinner Chris Brice showed his big-match credentials with 3-14 to pick up the man of the match honours with fellow slow bowler Kez Ahmed taking a similarly stingy 4-11 as St Lawrence’s fate was sealed.

Pearson added: “Tactically, we got it right. Our bowling unit performed well and we made a hard-grafted innings.

“We lost it a bit in the middle as they are a strong spinning unit and they held us back.

“But in the end, they didn’t seem to know what to do with our bowling unit and everyone bowled top-notch and Bricey got three top players out.

“I was also really pleased for Spen Victoria that the day went as well as it did.

“They did a superb job preparing the pitch. It looked a picture.

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