Pudsey St Lawrence should make it two wins over Scholes in six days and put a dreadful run of league form behind them tomorrow, says their skipper James Smith.
The experienced middle order batsman has seen his side overtaken at the top of the Bradford League by Hanging Heaton, and with a visit to the new leaders scheduled for the week after, he knows just how vital it is to claim a win against the league’s bottom side tomorrow.
Despite a win over tomorrow’s opposition in the Priestley Shield semi-final on Sunday, St Lawrence are without a league win since June 19.
“We see the game as one we should win, but will be giving Scholes plenty of respect. They have some very dangerous players, and on their day they can beat anyone, as they’ve shown against Cleckheaton already this season.”
Scholes were soundly beaten by Smith’s side on Sunday and with only two league wins so far look likely to suffer relegation in their first outing in the Bradford League. After a run of form that has seen St Lawrence pegged back and leapfrogged after an incredible start, Smith sees this as a game that could go a long way to making or breaking their season.
“It’s a must-win game for us. With Hanging Heaton coming up the week after, it’s vital that we go into that game within striking distance of them. We’ve had a blip and won’t be looking too far past Scholes, but we should be able to go into that match with a view to overtaking them.”
Scholes skipper James Stansfield is a player that Smith has identified as a key man for Saturday’s visitors.
“I know Stanners well from his time at Cleckheaton,” he said “He’s a good, solid cricketer and has a lot of experience with both bat and ball.”
The 37-year-old former Huddersfield Town centre-back is struggling to tackle his struggles with the bat this season, but is proving himself as one of the league’s foremost bowlers with 26 wickets at an average of 17.19. New boy and opening bowler James Harding (20 wickets at 17.6) is also doing the business, but it is in the batting that Scholes are finding themselves coming up short, with only 13 bonus points from their 14 games.
“They might just find it a bit easier to bat on our deck,” said Smith. “The pitch at their place is a bit slow and low, and the size of the ground makes it difficult to get the scoreboard moving. Their batsmen have nothing to lose and that’s always dangerous.”
The St Lawrence players will have half an eye on proceedings at Hanging Heaton, who welcome a seventh-placed Lightcliffe top order in fine form following last week’s successful run chase against Morley. They will have to combat the challenge of Muhammed Rameez however, who finds himself top of the league bowling tree following a miserly spell of 4-14 in 15 overs at Scholes on Saturday.
Elsewhere, St Lawrence’s 11th-placed local rivals Pudsey Congs will be hoping to climb out of the relegation mire, but will have to do it the hard way against a Woodlands side that boast the in-form Alex Atkinson, Sarfraz Ahmed and Chris Brice.
Farsley will be expected to keep the heat on the top two as they welcome East Bierley. Arthur Price’s men are the surprise package of this season having narrowly avoided relegation in 2015, whilst East Bierley were soundly beaten by New Farnley on Saturday and find themselves in the midst of a five-team relegation scrap.
2014 champions Cleckheaton, in sixth, will make the trip to fourth-placed New Farnley, whilst Bradford & Bingley will be hoping to move further into the mid-table against struggling Morley.