Aire-Wharfe League: Horsforth feeling at home among the top three

Ollie Hardaker. PIC: Steve Riding
Ollie Hardaker. PIC: Steve Riding
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HORSFORTH have gone from third-bottom to third with captain Ollie Hardaker hoping a relaxed approach and confidence in homegrown talent continues to ‘work the oracle’.

Horsforth finished last season with only relegated duo Guiseley and Beckwithshaw below them but only Otley and Follifoot are now above the Brownberrie Lane side five games into the new season.

Jason Wright

Jason Wright

Saturday’s win at North Leeds has left Hardaker’s side only nine points behind Follifoot with a further 16 to Otley with Hardaker saying the decision to back Horsforth lads together with the introduction of an overseas in Australian bowler, Chathura Kaluthanthri, has been key.

“We’ve gone down a different route,” explained Hardaker.

“We’ve backed a lot of the club lads and we’ve brought in an overseas which we didn’t have last year. That makes a big difference having a player from another country, an Australian especially.

“There’s the culture they bring, the professionalism and just someone to look up to, someone who has played at a higher standard back at home. It’s good and it brings a bit of a lift to everyone else around him.

Bowler Stephen Brown. PIC: Steve Riding

Bowler Stephen Brown. PIC: Steve Riding

“Then we decided to go down a bit of a Horsforth lads route. Every year for the last three years we have looked all right and promising, the team starts well and then we flutter away.

“We always say to ourselves ‘this is our year, we are going to win the league’ but this year we said in the winter ‘we have done that in the last three years, let’s not bring people in who are not at the club who are good players on paper. Let’s back them Horsforth lads’.

“We are not the best, talent-wise. On paper we have got a couple of good lads but what we are saying in the dressing room is that we enjoy playing with each other for the first time in a couple of years properly.

“Every single player knows each other and, talent-wise, we are not up there. But we have all jumped on the same train and decided that this is the way we are going to go, we are going to give everything on a Saturday, enjoy it and if we win we win.”

North Leeds were put to the sword on Saturday as Kaluthanthri (3-47) combined with Horsforth lads Alex Myers (2-45) and Michael Lambert (4-64) to have the hosts all out at 217.

Another Horsforth talent then shone as opener Ben Heritage’s knock of 69 helped his side on their way to a winning 219-5.

Champions Otley enjoyed a three-wicket win at last year’s runners-up, Burley, who sit second-bottom. Skipper Jason Wright (71) and Nick Brook (59) led the way as Burley made 220-8 against Stephen Brown (4-53). Otley opener Jamie Pickering’s 89 then set the leaders on their way to 224-7.

Istikhar Hussain shone for second-placed Follifoot, taking 6-26 to have hosts Bilton all out for 119. Chris Becker (34no) and Nick Robinson (47no) then eased Follifoot to 120-3 as Bilton dropped top third bottom.

Ilkley dropped to fourth after a two-run loss at Addingham who moved eighth with Ted Haggas taking 5-63, while bottom side Adel fell to a three-wicket reverse at Rawdon who jumped above Bilton into ninth.

Christopher Graham was the star man with an unbeaten 102.

The clash between seventh-placed hosts Pool and fifth-placed Collingham was abandoned because of rain.