CARRYING the mantle of champions is starting to bring out high standards from Cleckheaton,
John Wood’s side ended their wait to lift the Division One title in joyous fashion after several flirtations last autumn and now comes the hard bit as the Moorenders only know full well – successfully defending it.
With intense competition expected from the likes of Woodlands, Pudsey St Lawrence and Farsley to name but three, Cleck appreciate the dangers of dropping their performance levels and maintaining a strong sheen of professionalism.
Granted, as starts to seasons go, Cleck, notoriously slow-starters in the past, have made a solid as opposed to spectacular opening.
But Saturday’s 31-run win over divisional new boys New Farnley was just what the doctor ordered.
On proceedings so far for Cleck, who face Morley and neighbours East Bierley over the holiday weekend, spokesperson Kevin Mitchell, said: “John Wood felt last weekend’s win over New Farnley was pretty crucial.
“They are a decent team and our batting wasn’t the best, although Richard Whitehurst, Jimmy Lee and the two Nicholson brothers batted well.
“But our fielding, bowling, determination and professionalism was absolutely outstanding and it was one of the best performances I have seen for a while.
“Afterwards, we said it was just what we needed and showed what champions are made off.
“It’s about high standards. Our chairman David Worrall actually had a word with our overseas (Tanzeel Altaf) in his ear about being more responsible with his batting and we were very open about it.
“He actually apologised, because of a couple of occasions, he has tried to hit the first ball for six and been caught out immediately.
“He was made aware of his responsibilities. We have always had high standards and are aware of the need to up the ante on and off the field and want to establish ourselves as one of the top four sides in the division for a long time to come.
“Our start has been okay, but there’s a lot of hard work to come.”
Opening on Saturday, Cleck made 201-7, with ex-Tykes man Lee (44no) top-scoring.
Replying, Farnley were dismissed for 170, with Scott Richardson hitting 44, with Wood and Deegan taking three wickets apiece for Cleck, who are fifth in the table, 14 points behind leaders Farsley.
The Red Lane outfit inflicted another defeat upon rock-bottom Yeadon, although the North Leeds side ran them close.
Skipper Mark Harrison (50) was the main man in Farsley’s innings of 151, with overseas Elliott Herd then following up his 3-42 with 54, but Yeadon fell 16 runs short. Harrison sealed his impressive game with 4-26.
Six behind adrift of Farsley are Woodlands (176-2), who warmed up for this weekend’s top-of-the-table clash with a comfortable eight-wicket triumph over Pudsey Congs (175-9), whose tough start to 2014 continued.
Scott Richardson (56no) and Logan Weston (48no) saw Pieter Swanepoel’s side home at a canter, with Chris Brice taking 4-37.
Mark Robertshaw’s fine 122 and 71 from skipper James Smith couldn’t stop Pudsey Saints (251-6) slipping up in a high-scoring encounter with Lightcliffe (254-4), for whom Suleman Khan struck a magnificent unbeaten 124.
Dan Busfield (4-21) and Morley old boy Dave Paytner (3-33) helped Hanging Heaton (194-6) account for Morley (156).
Ben Elvidge (52) and Gary Fellows (59) were in the runs for the Tewits, with Matthew West (50) the saving grace for Morley.