YOU could say it was a bitter-sweet weekend for Woodlands’ new overseas addition Ishfaq Ahmad.
Dismissed for a golden duck on his Bradford Premier League bow at Pudsey St Lawrence on Saturday, the all-rounder cast aside the blow to produce an imperious innings of 139 not out to help the Albert Terrace men see off Townville by 30 runs in the Heavy Woollen Cup the following day – to feel rather better about things.
Woodlands cricket secretary Brian Pearson reflected: “Ishfaq is a lovely lad, but his first ball never got above six inches on Saturday.
“He was standing on the crease trying to play it and was bowled out.
“But what a difference a day makes with him scoring 139 not out the following day and 3-30. He looks a nice little off-spinner and his innings was superb.
“Ishfaq was recommended to me first of all by Saffy (Safraz Ahmed) and I spoke to at least three or four other people who are all ‘in the know’ and nobody had a bad word to say about him, and said he will do just want you want, which is what he did on Sunday.
Ishfaq was recommended to me first of all by Safraz Ahmed and I spoke to at least three or four other people and nobody had a bad word to say about him, and said he will do just want you want, which is what he did on SundayBrian Pearson on Ishfaq Ahmad
“I think he is going to fit in and strengthen our batting as you have to get the first three or four right.
“We have also promoted Finny (Greg Finn) to number four and he does not give his wicket away.”
A low-scoring game on St Lawrence’s newly relaid Tofts Road square ensued on Saturday as the hosts suffered their first league defeat of the season – with champions Hanging Heaton now the only unbeaten team.
Saints toiled at 48-8 and were eventually dismissed for 93, with Muhammad Bilal, Chris Brice and Elliot Richardson taking three wickets apiece.
Despite Woodlands losing five wickets for seven runs and slumping to 48-5, they held their nerve thanks to an unbroken sixth-wicket stand worth 50 between Jack McGahan (38no) and Greg Finn (14no).
Pearson observed: “It played to be expected for a new square and was low and high.
“We have had three years of this and they won the toss and batted, which was probably a mistake.
“But having said that, our opening bowlers did well in Bilal and young (Elliott) Richardson and then Bricey came on and we did not even have to use Kez Ahmed.
“We suffered a little bit similar when batting.
“But Jack McGahan, who we have promoted from the second team to step in for Scott Richardson, who has a broken bone in his toe and Finny dug in and got us through.
“It was an important win to stay in touch.”
On a day when previously unbeaten Farsley and Methley also lost, the big beneficiary were leaders Heaton (263), who were indebted to some strong batting from opener Nick Connolly (84) and Callum Geldart (54) against Townville (227-9), for whom Conor Harvey took 5-46 and followed up with 54.
Richie Bresnan hit an unbeaten 51 for Townville.
Fine centuries from opener Nick Lindley (112no) and overseas player Tayyab Tahir (103) helped Cleckheaton (272-4) to a maiden top-flight success in 2018 at the expense of a depleted Methley (270-9), who lost out in what proved to be a run-fest. The Cleck duo put on 142 for the third wicket, with stand-in captain Dan Shuffe (70) and Jordan Laban (67) in the runs for Methley.
Farsley (88) suffered a disappointing 127-run defeat at newly-promoted Scholes (215-9), whose leading lights were Yasir Ali (6-38), Kasir Maroof (96) and Sam Gatenby (50), who shared in a third-wicket stand of 126.
Twelve points adrift of Heaton in second spot are New Farnley (251-6), whose new wicketkeeper Steve Bullen hit a fine 97 as they crushed winless East Bierley (110) in comprehensive fashion.
Bullen put on 111 for the fourth wicket with Aidan Langley (55).
OLD HEADS Nathan Bromby and Dave Nebard propelled Morley to the summit of Championship One after a tense one-wicket win over previously unbeaten Baildon.
The Scatcherd Laners were in deep trouble at 88-8, chasing Baildon’s 181, but Bromby (56no) and Nebard (37) teamed up in outstanding fashion, putting on 83 for the ninth wicket.
Morley then held their nerve to edge home with a ball to spare, Bromby smashing a hefty six in dramatic fashion.
Now the division’s only unbeaten side, Morley have an eight-point lead over Gomersal, who hit a bumper 326-7 en route to a 220-run routing of Yeadon.
Fifth-wicket pair, Joe Duffy (102) and Richard Wear (82), put on 169, before Jack Seddon clubbed a brisk 52.
Yeadon were then skittled for 106.
Undercliffe’s opening bowlers Craig Wiseman (4-22), Zeeshan Qasim (3-38) and Khalid Usman (3-16) routed Hunslet Nelson for just 90, with the newly-promoted side beaten by seven wickets.
Wrenthorpe’s new-ball pair of Awais Ejaz (5-36) and Jonathan Rudge (5-42) skittled our Ossett for 78 to secure a 138-run win.
Jordan Sleightholme (53) top-scored for Wrens, with spinner Matthew Varley (6-66) impresing for Ossett.
Pudsey Congs lost out by 69 runs to Batley, for whom Musa Ahmed (52no) and Naveed Zamurad (51) were in the runs.
Hartshead Moor (72) are propping up the rest after a poor batting performance against Bankfoot (138), with Iain Wardlaw’s 5-36 in vain.
After promotion last season, the Highmoor Lane outfit are experiencing a tough baptism in the Championship One.
Heavy Woollen Cup action on Sunday saw Wrenthorpe (275-9) see off Morley (225) by fifty runs, with Sleightholme top-scoring with fifty for Wrens.
Henry Rush (65) was the best for Morley, followed by Oliver Halliday (54), with the duo also taking three wickets apiece.
Methley (212-5) beat brave Crossbank Methodists (211-8) by five wickets in their second-round encounter.
The Batley-based hosts produced a spirited batting performance with James Lord (36) and James Coulborn (38) top-scoring.
Sohail Raz took 4-38 for Methley, whose leading light with the bat was Adal Islam (40).