The Harrogate outfit, who were billed as title contenders early on in the season, crashed to their fifth defeat of the season against Ilkley and plummetted to ninth.
And after a Waddilove semi-final win against the same opposition on Sunday, they were also told of former Yorkshire all-rounder Vic Craven’s decision to retire after a stunning career.
“Vic has a young family and to be completely honest, he’s just not playing as well and he used to,” said skipper and long-time friend Ryan Bradshaw. “He’s played an awful lot of cricket and he feels he needs a break from the game, which we’re willing to support, although I’ll be trying to tempt him back at some point. He’s a real class act and has been brilliant for Bilton.”
Barring bottom side Collingham, they have the fewest batting bonus points in the division, and Bradshaw says this is where the blame lies for an underwhelming league campaign.
“Our bowling attack has been excellent, particularly our leg spinners Mustahsan Ali Shah and Kiel van Vollenhoven, who are both class acts, but the batting just hasn’t been there. We’ve not been at the races,” he added. “We’ve massively underperformed in the league, and it’s just not good enough.”
Batting first on Saturday, Bradshaw’s men were undone by devastating spells by the new-ball pairing of Henry Wilson (4-47) and Rob Spivey (5-34) as they were rolled for 101. In reply, Jonathan Hughes (50 not out) and Alex Bailey (40 not out) saw Ilkley home before drinks.
Sunday saw a huge reversal, as Bradshaw (57 not out) and van Vollenhoven (54 not out), came together to see off Ilkley’s 161. In what will be their second final in three years, Bilton will match up against Harrogate rivals Beckwithshaw at Steeton on August 6.
“It’s exciting for us, a huge derby and one to really look forward to. I was captain at Harrogate for a number of years and a lot of the players who will feature for both sides will have come to and from Harrogate in the past. We know their side inside out and are actually friends with a fair few of them which makes it really interesting.”
Their well-known opponents flew past Burley, who never looked competitive after being reduced to 6-4. A lower-order rally saw them to 95, which Shaw overcame for the loss of six wickets thanks to Eugene Burzler’s 54 not out.
Both teams surprisingly faltered the day before, Beckwithshaw failing to chase Pool’s 129 despite Ben Quick’s spirited 46. They were let off the hook by second-placed Burley’s failure to defend an imposing 283 at North Leeds.
Ed Brown made 85 and Red Bolton 65 for the title challengers, who looked well set with North Leeds’ required runs per over at 11 at one stage.
Barry Singleton went to work, though, and saw his side home with 49 not out from just 25 balls.
The main beneficiaries of those results are third-placed Otley, who had major contributions throughout the top order to thank for their 258-9 at relegation threatened Colton, who were drummed out for 170 in reply.
Colton’s bonus points were enough to leapfrog Collingham, however, who came up 15 runs short of Guiseley’s 192. Richard Nichols scored 71 not out for Guiseley and followed that up with 4-53, whilst Kuda Samunderu hammered 100.
Horsforth’s happy resurgence took them to sixth after a 34-run win over local rivals Rawdon.
Corey Barsby’s 83 not out was the biggest contribution in Horsforth’s 212-6, before Michael Lambert’s 3-38 kept Rawdon in check as they were dismissed for 178.