Bradford League: Saints skipper Smith errs on the side of caution

Nick Connolly
Nick Connolly
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WITH his Pudsey St Lawrence side top of Division One and in the last eight of the Priestley Cup, you would think skipper James Smith would be over the moon.

But it is far from the case, with the Saints stalwart conscious of the maxim that the season is a marathon and not a sprint.

Smith’s fine 112 not out on Saturday helped the Tofts Road outift (263-9) sink Hanging Heaton (262-6) by one run in a tense league clash – despite the best efforts of Ian Philliskirk (123no and 4-76).

The following day, St Lawrence (253-5) knocked the Tewits (252-9) out of the Priestley Cup by five wickets at Bennett Lane, with Mark Robertshaw (107no) in masterly form.

But Smith is steadfastly looking at the bigger picture.

He said: “I can’t be happy where we are now. We have just got to keep the belief going.

“At the end of July and start of August is a time when we have lost a bit of focus previously and for us, it is about staying stronger for longer.

“That is a mental issue we have to sort out and change and it is going to take more than a few good performances. We have to do it for the full five months of the season.”

He added: “The lads have gone really well so far and we came out of the Hanging Heaton games with two victories and showed our battling qualities as a team on both days and batted superbly well.

“Everyone is chipping in and is doing their bit. It makes a difference when one person fails and others step up to the plate.

“We are unbeaten and have been lucky with the weather. But we need to last the course.”

On a flying personal start to the season, Smith, who joined the select band of players to reach 10,000 league runs at the start of the season, said: “Personally, it’s a fair achievement. If someone had said to me that I was going to do it in my first game, I’d have laughed to be fair and it is unheard of for me to get that amount of runs in April!”

Elsewhere on Saturday, the fancied quartet of Cleckheaton, Woodlands, Pudsey Congs and New Farnley all posted wins.

Tim Jackson hit a sparkling 141 as Cleck (295-4) beat Undercliffe (171-9) before following up with victory against them the next day in the Priestley Cup.

Chris Brice took a magic 6-18 as Woodlands (156) eased past derby rivals East Bierley (87), while James Pearson (5-44), Adam Patel (85no) and Babar Butt (78) excelled as Pudsey Congs (259-5) crushed Lightcliffe (87-9) by 172 runs.

Yorkshire’s Andrew Hodd (106) helped New Farnley (299-4) account for Saltaire (141).

The woes deepened for Farsley (70), humbled by 136 runs at Bradford and Bingley (206), for whom Jack Hartley added to his reputation with 7-42.