FIRST-season skipper Chris Marsden hailed the long-term vision of Pudsey St Lawrence Cricket Club after guiding the Saints to their third Bradford League title in the last four years.
Saints faced a nervy wait after their game at Methley was one of five contests abandoned on Saturday without a ball even being bowled.
Second-placed New Farnley saw their contest at Bradford & Bingley get the go-ahead with New Farnley consequently needing to take 17 points to pip Pudsey St Lawrence to the post.
As it was, in a game reduced to 26 overs per side, New Farnley could pick up only 13 points with the second-placed side needing to take all ten Bees wickets after posting 156-8 if they were to snatch the title on the final day.
With Jack Edgar staying unbeaten on 55, Bradford & Bingley’s innings concluded at 99-2 with news then filtering through to Pudsey St Lawrence who could crack open the bubbly in adding another recent title to their triumphs in 2015 and 2016.
Hanging Heaton’s 2017 success has ultimately prevented a Saints four-timer monopoly and Hanging Heaton were also celebrating on Sunday after defeating Wakefield Thornes by seven wickets in the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy at Cleckheaton.
Fresh from also winning the Solly Sports Heavy Woollen Cup final, Hanging Heaton will now bid to land a brilliant hat-trick of cup wins this coming Sunday in the Vitality ECB Clubs T20 finals at Derby.
But the Bradford League crown again belongs to Pudsey St Lawrence whose proud first-season captain Marsden says are reaping the rewards of plans placed at the turn of the millennium.
“I am so proud of all the players,” said Marsden.
“All the hard work we have put in has paid off and it is great to play alongside such a great bunch of lads.
“Three titles in four years is reward for all the effort that the club has put in over the last 10-15 years to build up our junior set-up and bring players through.”
In claiming another league crown, Saints have adapted quickly to their relaid pitch with Mark Robertshaw’s stunning contributions also integral to their success.
Opening batsman Robertshaw finishes the season on 1,079 runs, just 26 runs short of Arnold Hamer’s club-record tally of league runs.
“Mark Robertshaw has been awesome for us this season,” said Marsden.
“The weekend when he scored 162no in our win at Hanging Heaton and scored 126 against Bradford & Bingley the following day showed his class.
“But he wasn’t the only player to impress.
“Our three seamers Charlie Parker, Jordan Thompson and Richie Lamb took vital wickets throughout the season, and Charlie even won two games for us with the bat. Our spinners also came up with key performances, but it was the way we stood up as a team that was so important.
“We came through in close games and we also scored two crucial wins over Hanging Heaton and New Farnley on the final run-in.”
Saints ultimately pipped New Farnley by just three points and Marsden’s men now move on to the Yorkshire Premier League play-offs this Saturday with Saints facing North Yorkshire South Durham League outfit Great Ayton at Scarborough.
“It’s a great place to play and we are looking forward to it,” said Marsden.
“We won a close game with Great Ayton in the 2016 semi-finals and we want to repeat that success and go on to play in the final at Headingley.”
Another final also awaits Hanging Heaton who put Wakefield Thornes in to bat in Sunday’s Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy final.
Thornes, who recently clinched their third-successive Yorkshire League ECB Premier League title, were eventually bowled out for 142 despite the efforts of opener James Wolfenden (30) as paceman David Stiff (4-46) and left-arm spinner Aqsad Ali (3-8) both excelled, while off spinner Callum Geldart conceded only 14 runs in six overs.
Hanging Heaton then needed to reach a Duckworth-Lewis target of 152 from 36 overs and left-handers Joe Fraser and Geldart led them to victory with Fraser caning 52 from 55 balls that included a six and eight fours.
Geldart was also unbeaten on 47 as the duo shared a third-wicket stand of 88 to reach their target with 14.4 overs to spare.