ONE TEAM may have won the Yorkshire Premier League play-off final showpiece in Abu Dhabi, but two men most definitely shared star billing.
Wakefield Thornes were the ones who deservedly triumphed following an outstanding 39-run triumph over Bradford League winners and favourites Pudsey St Lawrence, but the story of the game revolved around two figures.
Namely red-hot batsmen Dave Toft and Mark Robertshaw, who produced marathon efforts in searing heat to underline their class.
Toft’s efforts ultimately saw ECB Yorkshire Premier League South champions Thornes over the line, with the all-rounder hitting a marvellous 137 and then taking 3-63 as St Lawrence were dismissed for 257 in reply to their rivals’ imposing 296-6.
But the performance of redoubtable St Lawrence opener Mark Robertshaw, who struck a similarly exquisite 112, also provided plenty to savour on a day when both men showcased their talents to the full.
St Lawrence captain James Smith said: “Mark did three hours and fifty minutes fielding and then batted for another three hours. I don’t know how he did it. It was his sheer bloody-mindedness. The guy has such a temperament on him.
“He would not allow himself to do anything other than fight for Pudsey to get somewhere near that total.
“In that heat, it was a heroic effort by him – and also by Dave, who batted for the majority of their innings and bowled ten overs and fielded as well.
“Both deserve the heroic label upon them.
“Dave played what I believe was one of the best innings I have ever seen in league cricket.”
Offering his take on the game, Smith added: “We were gutted to lose, especially when we gave ourselves a fighting chance after the dreadful start to the second half.
“But we showed a lot of pride and passion to get anywhere near the total as it was a big task from being 28-3.
“I was proud of how the lads dug in and hopefully showed the traits which have made us champions for the last two years.
“But you have got to give all credit to Wakefield Thornes. They surprised me in terms of their quality and they had really good all-around quality from one to 11 and deserved their victory.
“I am not saying we underestimated them as we never underestimate anybody as you come unstuck.
“But in terms of the quality and composure that they showed in a big game, I thought they were absolutely outstanding in how they held themselves together and played the game beautifully and made us really toil in the first half.
“I am not going to lie, it was hard in the heat.
“But they made us run around by finding the gaps and pushing and doing all the basics really well.
“The toss was influential, but I still don’t think it was crucial. I definitely would have batted first and Tom (Froggett – Thornes captain) did the right thing.
“But we let ourselves down in the first half and we fielded poorly and bowled without much control and it made scoring runs too easy for them.”
Despite the loss, Smith believes that St Lawrence have plenty to be proud of following another memorable campaign for the men from Tofts Road, while being relieved he and his troops can now hang up their whites for a while.
He said: “I am kind of glad the season has now finally finished as it’s been a long one!
“But I said to the lads in the dressing room: ‘Be disappointed we have not won this game, but understand why we lost it.’
“We played in every single game we could have except the t20 final and without the number of trophies we wanted, we have had a very successful and competitive season and the lads can be really proud.”