Aire-Wharfe League: ’Shaw skipper Lilley is given ‘perfect send-off’

Aire-Wharfe League Division 1 champions Beckwithshaw. PIC: Steve Riding

Beckwithshaw skipper Alex Lilley has said winning the league and cup double is the perfect way to bid farewell to his home club – for the time being.

The former Yorkshire all-rounder confirmed that he will play for Bradford League outfit New Farnley next season having scored 773 runs and taken 64 wickets for the Harrogate outfit this term.

Beckwithshaw captain 'Alex Lilley celebrates with Olly Hodgkiss after catching the sixth North Leeds wicket of Andrew Carsons for 33 off the bowling of Eugene Burzler. The sixth wicket gave them the bonus point needed to win the league. PIC: Steve Riding

His side hammered North Leeds on Saturday to retain their crown and secure their third top-tier title in the past five seasons. All this comes despite a 20-point deduction for disciplinary issues.

“It feels very good,” he said. “Beckwithshaw is very much my home club and it’s been a fantastic season.

“It’s been a huge team effort this season and everybody has pulled in the same direction.

“The team spirit and atmosphere around the club has been as good as I’ve seen. All three teams were down celebrating and we had 60 or so at the club celebrating all night.”

Beckwithshaw celebrate. PIC: Steve Riding

Having lost all-rounders Ishtikkar Hussain and Yasir Ali to Follifoot in the off-season, Lilley admits he feared for whether the squad was strong enough to defend their 2016 title.

“We were always going to be strong, but I just wasn’t sure we had the depth to go on and win it again, if I’m being honest,” admitted Lilley.

“But people have stepped up and done a great job.”

Lilley singled out his 49 wicket brother James, seamer Olly Hotchkiss and hard-hitting batsman Sam Moore as three players who have stepped up to the mark in the absence of the Follifoot duo.

“In all honesty, on paper at least, we probably had a better side last season, but a few people had really great seasons and every contribution counted in the end.”

As at this stage last season, the club are back in the recruitment pool and are busy searching for a replacement for Lilley. The new captain, he says, will be appointed internally, but the club will look elsewhere to bring new players in.

“We’ve identified a couple of people who we think could do a good job for us,” he said. “I’m staying very much a part of the club and I imagine I’ll play a part in those discussions.”

It was a classic team performance that took them to the title. North Leeds had Shaw stumbling at 73-4, but a brace of rapid 40s, one from Sam Moore (46 from 33) and the other from Miles Buller (42 from 32) got the innings back on track and allowed Beckwithshaw to post 227-9 and claim full batting points. In reply North Leeds were blown over inside 22 overs thanks to Eugene Burzler (3-41), Oliver Hotchkiss (3-37) and James Lilley (2-0).

A place further back, Otley had to endure an agonising wait having steamrollered Guiseley for 68 thanks in the main to 4-21 from Chris Thompson. Ben Morley (28 not out) and Stephen Brown (30 not out) combined to secure a full 20-point quota, but it was not enough to bring the title back to Cross Green.

Neither relegated side could go out with a bang as Collingham were beaten by Rawdon, and Colton were snaffled out by Burley. Horsforth, who suffered a torrid start to the season, claimed a creditable fifth place thanks to their win over Waddilove Cup runners-up Bilton, whilst Ilkley won out in a low-scoring affair at Pool.

In Division Two, it was over to Follifoot and Ben Rhydding to fight over the right to join champions Adel in the top tier, and it was the Harrogate side who held on to second place thanks to their 20-point rout of Kirkstall.

Ben Rhydding, who took 18 points from their trip to Steeton, will have to try again next year.

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