Aire-Wharfe League: High-flying Ilkley on the right road to silverware

ILKLEY have moved second in the Aire Wharfe League – with all-rounder Andy Rhodes now back from injury and hoping to overhaul former club Otley in first.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 6:31 am
James Davies pushes a single for his 50. He scored 126 and took five wickts for Otley against Addingham. PIC: Steve Riding

Rhodes has played just eight games in two seasons upon returning to his boyhood side but came back to win silverware which the 31-year-old genuinely believes could be in the offing in 2019.

Only two games in the Aire Wharfe League top flight reached a conclusion following another wet weekend with champions Otley already 29 points clear following a 70-run success at home to Addingham.

Ted Haggas, of Addingham, took three wickets at Otley. PIC: Steve Riding

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Following their own four-wicket triumph at home to North Leeds, last season’s fifth-placed finishers, Ilkley, now head the chasing pack and the Middleton Avenue side are about to be boosted by return of Rhodes. The ex-Ilkley youngster returned to the club after nine years at Otley in 2017 but has rarely featured following two back operations then an ankle injury at the start of the year.

Painter and decorator Rhodes damaged ankle ligaments after falling off his step ladder – but the all-rounder is nearing a comeback believing Ilkley are capable of finishing on the top rung of the Aire Wharfe League.

“Otley are the team to catch and I think everyone in the league knows that,” said Rhodes.

“But we’re in a position where it’s like ‘hang on a minute, we have got a chance’ we just need to get a few results together.

Otley's James Davies in run-getting action against visiting Addingham. PIC: Steve Riding

“We have always been a team that has sort of thought we will try and finish fourth or fifth but after six games you are almost a third of the way through the season so the table does start to take a bit of a shape and it’s a fair reflection on where we are as a club. I do think that we are good enough to be up there.

“We are obviously chasing a team like Otley who are a very, very good side and they have got some really good cricketers.

“James Davies got a hundred again on Saturday so they’re the ones to catch but I do believe, on our day, that there’s no reason why we couldn’t beat them.”

Skipper Davies smashed 22 fours and one six en route to making 126 for Otley who were all out at 249 after Stephen Brown also weighed in with a knock of 51.

Richard Atkins had taken 4-58 but a fine afternoon for Davies continued as the Otley captain took 5-24 with the visitors finishing on 179-9.

Over at Ilkley, North Leeds’ opening three batsmen all made good contributions with Numan Khan unbeaten on 49 but their target of 190-7 was still bettered by Ilkley who made 196-6 in reply with Robert Spivey unbeaten on 39.

Ilkley next visit third-bottom Bilton this weekend with Rhodes set to feature for the club’s seconds as he steps up his return from injury.

Asked if he would even get in the thriving first team, Rhodes laughed: “Probably not no! I’m a bit of a fraud really! I’ve only played eight games because of injuries and what have you but, hopefully, I can play the rest of the games this year. I’m hoping to push on.”