HANGING HEATON are pinning their hopes on it being a case of ‘fifth time lucky’ in their latest Royal London ECB National Club Championship group final odyssey this weekend.
The major priority for the Tewits may be clinching Bradford Premier League silverware for the first time since 1999 but success in the national cup competition also figures highly on their wish-list – and Gary Fellows’ side can make history if they beat Elsecar in Sunday’s group final at Bennett Lane.
Heaton, who booked their date against the Barnsley-based outfit with a 29-run win over Sheffield Collegiate, have reached this stage of the national competition four previous times but have so failed to progress.
Victory at the weekend would see the Tewits take on either Cheshire winners Hyde or fellow North West side Heywood – and move within three rounds of reaching the final, which is due to take place at Essex CCC on September 17.
It is a competition which White Rose sides have sporadically done well in over the years, with York – also in this year’s competition – winning in 2012 and Collegiate and Doncaster Town triumphant in the last two decades.
On his own side’s quest, chairman John Carruthers said: “It is a good competition. It gives you a little more coverage and exposure further afield.
“We have had to pull out on three separate occasions when we have got to the final, believe it or not.
“We had to pull out last year against Harrogate and also against them in the early 2000s and then there was another. There has always been a clash at this point.
“We also lost to Cuckney, a Nottinghamshire side, in a group final once.
“If we get through on Sunday, it will be the furthest that we have got. There’s no reason why we can’t have a good run.
“You would like to think we will be as competitive as some of the sides who have done well in it in the past such as York, Chester-le-Street and South Northumberland.
“Thankfully this year, we have not had a rain-affected Sunday yet as that can knock back a fixture. To be honest, the Bradford League have been quite understanding.”
Opening against South Yorkshire Premier League high-fliers Collegiate, Heaton posted 262-7 from 45 overs with their innings being anchored by a 114-run first-wicket stand between captain Fellows (61) and Richard Foster (48).
Another strong stand down the order between Ismail Dawood (66no) and David Stiff (48) put further meat on the Heaton knock.
Replying, Collegiate were pegged back early on, only for middle-order men Luke Shutt (53) and Josh Varley (45) to instigate a rally.
But Heaton kept chipping away and Collegiate were all out for 233, with Dan Busfield leading the parade with 3-42.
Carruthers added: “They were probably a little bit understrength and were without (Eliot) Callis, Bill Root and Azeem Rafiq, who were ineligible to play, and we benefitted from our ex first-class players being available. “They also had a quality overseas player who was unavailable too. But it was a good win.”
Heaton were afforded rather more drama on Saturday in a nail-bitting finish against plucky strugglers East Bierley in the league.
Bierley posted an opening salvo of 230-8, with in-form captain Adam Patel hitting a terrific 106, putting on 185 in a marvellous third-wicket stand with Shaaiq Choudhary (89).
In reply, Nick Connolly continued his purple patch for the leaders with a knock of 52, taking his 2017 runs tally to 546.
Further down the order, Callum Geldart struck a brisk 71 to up the tempo but a pulsating finale saw Heaton finish level pegging with the hosts after overseas player Muhammad Rameez was run out at the end.