Pudsey St Lawrence captain James Smith hopes that qualification for the Priestley Cup final will act as a turnaround moment in their season following a run of defeats that saw his side toppled from the summit of the Bradford League on Saturday.
His side travelled to likely Premier League relegation sufferers Scholes on Sunday and recorded a seven-wicket win that halts a run of reversals that sees them second to Hanging Heaton and without a league win since June 18.
“It was important that we got a win, and without being disrespectful, in truth it didn’t really have the feel of a semi-final,” said Smith. “We got a wicket with the first ball of the match and squeezed the life out of the game from start to finish.”
After Neil Kellett nicked off to Richie Lamb first up, only the middle order pairing of James Stansfield (25) and Christian Jackson (23) could offer any resistance to a five-man Pudsey bowling attack that claimed two wickets apiece. Their efforts were praised by Smith, who suggested the scorecard only told some of the story.
“We bowled very well,” he added. “140 or 150 would have been a very tough score to chase down given the pace of the deck and the size of the ground. Scholes have some dangerous players.”
Aside from losing talismanic opener Adam Waite for a duck, Pudsey were comfortable in reply. Mark Robertshaw made a measured 32, and it was down to Barrie Frankland and Smith himself to see them home to make the final of a competition they last won in 2014. It’s with these key names that Smith is hoping to lead from the front and kick on towards a defence of their title.
“It comes down to me. I have to lead the way in how we practice and use the knowledge of the league. We have a few senior players, people like Robertshaw, Duce and Frankland that have enough experience and ideas, and we can be a team in a team to set the benchmark for the others, but I take responsibility for the results whether we win or lose.”
St Lawrence will play fifth-placed Woodlands in the final, and will hope for a reverse of Saturday’s 88-run defeat. Retiring all-rounder Safraz Ahmed smashed a game-changing 62 not out from just 23 balls at the end of the innings to help Woodlands post an imposing 241-5 – a total that Smith felt was 40 runs too high.
“We had a plan how to bowl at Safraz and on the day he was just too good. He’s a great cricketer and a great bloke and has been a fantastic servant to Woodlands for 16 years. If he does hang up his boots at the end of the season he deserves all the accolades that will come his way.”
After Ahmed underlined his all-rounder status with the early wicket of Robertshaw, it was over to Chris Brice and Kez Ahmed to run through the Pudsey middle order, returning 5-44 and 3-30 respectively. St Lawrence lost four wickets for just six runs, three in Brice’s first over to lbws that Smith counts as unlucky.
“It’s fair to say that we didn’t really get the rub of the green in that middle period,” he said, “but it has to be said that we dropped Safraz twice, which has been a theme for us recently. We’ve deserved to lose the last three games. It comes down to discipline; we’ve got ourselves into match-winning positions and then let them slip.”
PUDSEY ST LAWRENCE are aiming to be crowned the top team in Yorkshire.
They bid to reach the semi-finals of the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy on Sunday when they travel to York side Sheriff Hutton Bridge (1pm). If successful, the Saints will head to Aston Hall for the semi-final on Sunday, August 7 and the winners will feature in the Sunday, September 11 final.
In the league, a second-wicket stand of 126 between Aqeel Mukhtar and Tariq Mehboob laid the foundations for Batley over struggling Keighley, as they returned to the top of Championship A on Saturday.
Mukhtar, who had put on 51 for the first wicket with skipper Tariq Hussain, hit his maiden Bradford League century to play the key role in an imposing total of 236-7. Only Keighley seamer James Rogers put up resistance (3-56), before his team-mates continued their struggles as they were rolled out for 107. Huzaifa Patel took 4-41 for the table toppers.
Batley leapfrogged Yeadon, despite the High Street side recording a breezy win over Saltaire. The wickets were shared around as they blew the Aire Wharfe-bound side out for 117, before 30s for openers Jake Wray and James Todd set them up for a 7-wicket win.
It was ‘spin to win’ for Baildon, as Simon Bailey (6-36) and Mushtaq Ahmed (3-13) bowled them to a 81-run mauling of Liversedge. Jonny Reynolds continued his fine 2016 with a fluent 65 as they posted 176-6. Only Jessie Dinnie (37) had any answer for the turning ball as his side were rolled for 95.
Elsewhere, Birstall beat Undercliffe by 59 runs, whilst basement-dwellers Idle were embarrassed at Hunslet Nelson, bowled out for just 44 and losing by 175 runs.
In Championship B, Townville’s 12-match hot streak was ended as they fell to Bowling Old Lane by four runs. Speedy half-centuries for Ayyaz Akram (62*) and Bilal Ejaz (51*) produced an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 107 to hand Old Lane a competitive 231-5.
At 108-6, the table-toppers looked out of it, before a seventh-wicket partnership of 97 between Timothy Walton (72) and Nadim Hussain (42) put them back in contention. It wasn’t to be, Townville all out for 227 in the final over. Sadaqat Zaman (4-48) was the pick of the Old Lane bowlers.
Second-placed Wrenthorpe made light work of third-placed Methley. Skipper Andrew Bourke (4-14) did much of the damage as Methley were bowled out for 78 in reply to a Luke Patel (64) inspired 187-9.
Further down the table, Bankfoot won out in a lowscoring contest against Spen Victoria, despite the efforts of Rob Marriner (5-36). Spen had set the home side only 101 to win, and Bankfoot lost six wickets on their way to victory inside 27 overs.
The runs were shared around at Carlton, where the home side saw off Altofts by 16 runs, whilst Gomersal recovered from 55-5 to overcome Brighouse’s 151-9 thanks to an unbeaten century partnership between skipper Graham Hilton (59*) and Jack Seddon (66*). Hartshead Moor remain bottom after a 33-run defeat against Hopton Mills despite the efforts of veteran twirler Mahboob Hussain (5-32).
Pudsey Congs show no signs of getting out of relegation trouble after a hapless defeat at Farsley kept them rooted in 11th place.
Batting first, Congs mustered a paltry 99, of which no3 Joe Greaves hammered a 57-ball 64. The home side knocked the figure off in the 16th over with contributions from Arthur Price (30), James Wainman (36*) and Greg Pickles (21*) and remain in third place.
Above them, Hanging Heaton took advantage of a third Pudsey St Lawrence defeat on the bounce to go top. They beat Scholes by 85 runs thanks in the main to Muhammed Rameez’s spell of 5-14 in 15 overs.
Having conceded 203-8 in Heaton’s innings, for whom Nick Connolly (60) and Joe Fraser (58) struck half-centuries, Scholes’ blushes were partially spared by an eighth-wicket partnership of 50 between tailenders Matt Garside (27) and James Harding (21*) as they were dismissed for 118.
A classy 151* by Lee Goddard provided New Farnley with the backbone of their 279-6, before a cumulative bowling effort dismissed East Bierley three short of 200 on the penultimate ball.
Lightcliffe’s opening stand of 117 did much of the damage to relegation-threatened Morley, who set 203-8 thanks to Matthew Baxter (60), Kashif Naveed (46) and Colin Nuthall (30).
The experienced pair of Alex Stead (62) and Ian Philliskirk (88) laid for foundations for Lightcliffe, before Jonathan Wilson (44*) saw his side home.
Elsewhere, 206-8 was enough for Cleckheaton to win out in their mid-table battle with Bradford & Bingley, for whom Noman Ali took 4-46.
In reply Curtis Free’s spell of 4-34 shackled Bees, who were bowled out for 162.