THE Bradford Premier League season may be 16 games in and approaching the mid-August mark, but in many respects, the season starts now.
Certainly in the race for silverware, which has had twists and turns aplenty and is shaping up to be the most compelling campaign in a good number of years.
Inspection of the current league table validates this point conclusively, more especially after last weekend’s drama.
New leaders are Pudsey St Lawrence, the main beneficaries after previous frontrunners New Farnley lost out to another side in the title mix in Farsley – who beat Farnley on successive days in league and cup.
It was a weekend which saw the scrap for the title tighten up further. Just 12 points separate St Lawrence from fourth-placed Farsley – who they play on Saturday – with fifth-placed Methley still just about in the mix too.
One of the form sides are unquestionably St Lawrence, who recorded a nine-wicket win over Townville on Saturday; their fifth league victory in their past six outings.
Townville were in a heap of trouble at 23-5 before eventually reaching a total of 123, with Connor Harvey hitting a gutsy 40. Jordan Thompson took 3-25 for St Lawrence.
Replying, the Tofts Road outfit eased to victory with undue alarm, thanks to a handsome unbeaten second-wicket stand of 104 between opener Mark Robertshaw (71no) and Charlie Best (33no).
Captain Chris Marsden observed: “Mathematically, there is maybe four or five teams who can still win the league.
“With everyone having to play everyone else, there’s a lot of cricket still to be played.
“We have been playing some really good cricket and been quite ruthless and doing our basics very well. That has allowed us to put some fantastic performances together in some crucial games.
“The bowlers, especially as a unit, have been great and we have bowled fantastically as a group.
“And batting-wise, Mark has come into some great form at the minute and it was nice to see Charlie Best get some runs at the weekend and he looked in great touch as well. Hopefully, things are coming together at the right time for us.
“It is just about putting the hard yards together in every game on Saturday and making sure we are fully prepared to do our jobs.”
Farsley opening bowler Chris Henry inspired the Red Laners’ victory charge against Farnley.
The seamer took 5-47 as the visitors were bowled out for 118 after electing to bat first. Overseas Pat Kruger weighed in with 3-36.
Farsley stumbled in reply at 18-4 before Dan Hodgson (48) and James Logan (32no) got things back on an even keel. Paceman Andrew Brewster took 3-20 for Farnley.
Relegation-threatened Scholes were no match for champions Hanging Heaton, who made hay after dismissing the New Popplewell Lane outfit for 112.
Chief architects of their demise were spinner Callum Geldart (5-34) and Tom Chippendale (4-27).
Opener Gary Fellows (61no) and Ben Kohler-Cadmore (44) orchestrated the Tewits’ successful reply.
Yorkshire’s Matthew Waite (73) and Jordan Laban (52no) shared a third-wicket partnership of 119 as fifth-placed Methley overcame cellar dwellers East Bierley by seven wickets. East Bierley were dismissed for 174 with Danish Hussain and Raheel Ahmed both making 43.
The most-successful of Methley’s bowlers was Adal Islam (4-28).
Woodlands’ skipper Tim Jackson made a fine 102 and was joined in an opening stand of 185 by Sam Frankland (94) as his side made 251-6 on their way to a 150-run win over relegation-threatened Bradford & Bingley.
In-form Cleckheaton recorded their fourth win in five matches, easing past Lightcliffe by 102 runs.
Top-scorers in the Moorenders’ hefty knock of 254-8 were Nick Walker (67), prolific overseas man Tayyab Tahir (50) and veteran John Wood (43no).
Spinner Andrew Deegan then came to the party with 5-28 for Cleck.