PUDSEY CONGS rolled back the years on Saturday – and Ralph Middlebrook could not have been happier.
In need of a lift following an arduous start to the ECB Bradford Premier season and far too close to the foot of the table for comfort, the Britannia Ground outfit evoked memories of better times with an outstanding display to sink hosts Lightcliffe by eight wickets – and end a four-match losing streak.
Game star against his old club was all-rounder Josh Wheatley, who followed up figures of 5-39, which restricted Lightcliffe to 189-9 with an unbeaten 62 to see Congs home and move out of the drop zone – with the supporting cast led by Callum Geldart (56) and Andrew Bairstow (61no).
Spokesperson Middlebrook said: “I can’t recall us playing better overall, over the 77 overs. Even when we had (Matthew) Doidge, Rana (Naved), (Phil) Carrick and (VVS) Laxman and Co’ playing.
“It was a magnificent performance. They were 72-0 and we managed to win because we bowled tight and the two spinners, Wheatley and (Nick) Lindley, bowled really well, backed up by the fielding.
“Harris Mohammad, our new left-armer from the second team, bowled brilliantly and was well supported by (Gareth) Phillips and Josh Holling.
“In reply, Callum set off like a racehorse with some beautiful shots and Wheatley, who opened as Lindley had a migraine, played some glorious shots too.
“Andrew Bairstow is also playing as well as he has played and he was brutal and hit some big sixes and we stormed home with 23 overs to go. Nobody played the perfect game. But it was well nigh the best I have seen Pudsey Congs first team play. The battling had been reasonable and the fielding has kept going, but the bowling had been below-par until now.”
The only downer for Congs came with the news that number four batsman Dylan Budge will miss the rest of the season after undergoing a hip operation, with Middlebrook rating it as “a big loss”.
Elsewhere on Saturday, leaders Pudsey St Lawrence (265-9) power on at the top and are 24 points clear after an eight-wicket win over East Bierley (126) – the main contributors being James Smith (81), Adam Waite (62) and Steve Watts (4-17).
Hanging Heaton (88-5) are second following an impressive five-wicket win over Cleckheaton, dismissed for 85 – Mohammed Rameez taking 4-14.
Wicketkeeper Lee Goddard took five victims and struck an unbeaten 74 as improving New Farnley (180-6) secured a four-wicket win over Farsley (176), despite the best efforts of Arthur Price, who hit a sparkling 96 not out.
Runs were at a premium at Scatcherd Lane, where Scholes (67-7) got the better of Morley (66) to claim their second successive win.
For the hosts, however, it was their third reverse on the bounce.
James Stansfield (3-8) and James Harding (4-35) were in the wickets for the victors, with Matt Dowse’s 5-25 in vain for Morley.
Woodlands (140) were pipped at the post by Bradford and Bingley (141-9) by one wicket, despite the best efforts of Jordon Laban (56) and Kez Ahmed (5-35).