Local cricket round-up: Woodlands’ title triumph goes down to the wire

TOWNVILLE pushed all the way to the finishing post, but it still wasn’t enough to land them the Gordon Rigg Bradford Premier League Premier Division title.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 2:31 pm
The Woodlands team show off the Bradford League Premier Division trophy after the clinching the title with victory over New Farnley. Picture: Ray Spencer.

The Castleford-based club castled strugglers Batley for 85, with the league’s leading wicket-takers Conor Harvey (6-43) and Jack Hughes (3-19) again to the fore.

It wasn’t easy for Townville either when they replied as they lost opener Jonny Booth to the third ball of the innings and were 62-6 but were fittingly seen home by Hughes (24no) and Harvey (15no) without further loss.

Then the focus switched to New Farnley, who, like Townville, had also chased Woodlands long and hard over the course of the campaign.

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New Farnley wicketkeeper Dan Hodgson stumps Woodlands' Cieran Garner off the bowling of Daniel Houghton. Picture: Steve Riding.

Visitors Woodlands made 228, and about half of those runs came from Brad Schmulian (112), whose return to New Zealand had been delayed by a positive coronavirus test.

He should have gone home a fortnight ago but instead had to isolate, coming out of his 10-day quarantine to hit 15 fours in what proved to be a match-winning knock by the man who will replace Cieran Garner as captain next season.

Gurman Randhawa, as he has so often been, was the pick of the New Farnley bowlers with 3-54, but it was Woodlands’ spin duo of Chris Brice and Kez Ahmed who then took centre stage as they have so often done in 2021.

Brice bagged 4-25 and Ahmed 4-41 as New Farnley were dismissed for 154, despite Steve Bullen making 61 not out and Adam Waite 35.

James Smith of Pudsey St Lawrence, who retired after the last game of the season on Saturday. He scored 73 in the win against Bradford and Bingley. He made his first-team debut in 1995, was league-winning captain in 2015 and 2016 and the Priestley Cup-winning captain in 2011 and 2014. Picture: Neil Allinson.

Woodlands therefore not only gained revenge for their Heavy Woollen Cup final defeat of three weekends ago but also lifted their eighth Bradford League title – this time by 11 points from Townville, who were also the bridesmaids in the Priestley Cup final last weekend to New Farnley.

The Oakenshaw club must now travel to Yorkshire Southern Premier League champions Appleby Frodingham next Saturday in a Yorkshire Premier Leagues’ Championship semi-final.

The defeat by Townville confirmed Batley’s relegation, and going down with them were Morley, despite a last-day victory over Cleckheaton.

Morley made 119, but Matt Dowse (6-42) and Nathan Bromby (4-35) then dismissed Cleckheaton for 84. The victors ended the season seven points behind Wrenthorpe, who were victims of Hanging Heaton in what was an emotional day for the latter club as they said goodbye to four players who have been such a key part of their recent successes – Gary Fellows, Nick Connolly, Joe Fraser and David Stiff.

Sam Hyde of Horsforth Hall Park celebrates after bowling New Rover's Fahid Rehman for 0 in the Aire-Wharfe League on Saturday. Picture: Steve Riding.

Only Fraser, dismissed for one, failed to play a part in the 150-run victory, with Fellows scoring 32, becoming the club’s all-time leading run-scorer, Stiff taking 3-63 and Connolly scoring 177 not out, which included nine sixes and 18 fours.

Pudsey St Lawrence all-rounder James Smith also signed off in style, scoring 73 and taking 2-1 as Bradford & Bingley were beaten by 179 runs.

Meanwhile, Ossett took the Division One title, while Bankfoot need only one point from their final match against Carlton to join them in the top flight.

Meanwhile, in the Aire-Wharfe League, Tom Starkey-inspired Olicanian defeated champions Saltaire by four wickets but they have still been relegated alongside Horsforth.

Tahseen Shah Suleman of Batley is bowled by Townville's Conor Harvey for four. Picture: Steve Riding.

Starkey took 4-30 opening the bowling as Saltaire were restricted to 161 and then scored 76 opening the batting.

Elsewhere in the top flight, Otley moved up to second spot with victory over North Leeds while there were also wins for Burley-in-Wharfedale, Collingham and Linton, Addingham and Ilkley.