In-form Championship outfit Skelmanthorpe’s memorable Sykes Cup run came to the end of the line on a sun-baked afternoon at Premiership high flyers Moorlands. Allan Greenwood’s inspiring team have routinely found a higher gear against Premiership opposition but on this occasion Moorlands, currently enjoying their richest vein of form of the season, became a bridge too far.
They can reflect on their efforts with pride having lost the toss to field first. Despite long periods where the Moorlands batsmen kept them at arm's length; they only began to lose their way in a fatiguing final half of the innings with the barometer pushing 30C. Moorlands played a difficult proposition well against a side with their tails up and nothing to lose. Despite losing their prolific opener Shoukat Ali with the score on 50, Moorlands simply absorbed whatever Skelmanthorpe’s frontline bowlers could inflict. Opener James Rawlinson stood definitely; calmly flicking or caressing any carelessly delivered balls towards the boundary to keep the scoreboard moving. His partnership of 98 with the continually-impressive Siraj Sajid became the bedrock for a final assault. Spinner Richard Wimpenny and Adam Rollins bowled frugally but others were targeted mercilessly as Sajid cruised past his fifty. The departure of Rawlinson for a hard-worked 66 opened the door for Eddie Walmsley’s destructiveness. The Moorlands captain hammered 47 in almost half as many balls to propel the match away from the morale-sapped visitors. Sajid’s epic 147-ball stay came to an end on 93 in the final over when Adam Rollin (2-79) finally dislodged him, although the damage had been heavily inflicted by then.
Moorlands’ 288-5 total was already enough of a mountain to tackle but the target must have felt even more imposing once George Sommerville was run out on the first ball of the reply. Cummins and Sri-Lankan Kesun Hewa quickly settled the visitors down as they sensibly fended off probing opening bowlers Andrew Walker and Darrell Sykes to move the score to 75-1. Nadim Hussain removed Cummins (33) via a catch by Rawlinson and the prized wicket of Hewa (54) shortly after scoring his half-century proved to be a turning point. Despite the further blow of losing the steeply-experienced Ryan Robinson for 8, Joe Sykes’ brisk 32 just about kept the visitors in the hunt. However once he was skittled by Walmsley, Moorlands cranked up a gear to work through the lower order. Rollin hung around defiantly for 26 but once he was out, the end came quickly for Skelmanthorpe with Walmsley (4-28) and George Crowther (2-18) efficiently whittling down the remaining batsmen.
The visitors were dismissed for 186 and can now focus on a T20 Shield final (where they will meet Lepton Highlanders) and the continuation of their promotion campaign where they will hope to meet their opponents again in a league fixture next season. For Moorlands, they have all to play for with anything up to three more fixtures against Hoylandswaine that will define their season.
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