Featured Image: Xander Selby (Delph & Dobcross) produced a match-winning performance to put the skids under Hoylandswaine as Delph cut the gap further to just 7 points with three matches left to play. The talented 14 year old's superb spin bowling (2-51) removed destructive batters Chris Holliday and Ryan Robinson before he then went to take a good catch to dismiss Muhammad Bilal and rounded it off by running out Ben Potter.
Picture courtesy of Neil Cadd.
As first met second in the Premiership table it was second-placed Delph & Dobcross that kept their title challenge well and truly alive with a thoroughly impressive victory at home to the faltering leaders. It's been as exciting at the bottom of the table too as three of the bottom four all collected invaluable wins but Barkisland had their relegation confirmed after they saw the gap increase to 22 points with only 18 points left to play for. In the Jedi Championship, Shelley drew level at the top after overcoming leaders Rastrick with Mirfield Parish Cavaliers in hot pursuit. Meltham secured their safety by sending Linthwaite and Kirkheaton down. Lepton Highlanders were crowned champions of the Cedar Court Conference when they beat Marsden and Cumberworth United, Almondbury and Hall Bower all lost.
Hoylandswaine are finding getting over that finish line isn't as straightforward as it seems as they missed the chance to be crowned Champions on their close rivals' ground after Delph & Dobcross waltzed to a comfortable victory in their top of the table tussle. Ryan Robinson's men were second best all over the field as they let slip a solid platform to 227ao having been asked to bat by their hosts. Chris Holliday (77) shrugged off the early losses of Gharib Nawaz (24) and SP Singh (10) to put on a solid partnership with Gurman Randhawa (26). Delph's talented youngster Xander Selby (2-51) bowled in tandem with fellow spinner Arron Lilley (2-53) and along with some superb fielding turned things around obliterating the Hoylandswaine lower order to reduce the visitors to a below-par score. Delph's prolific opening batsman Mosun Hussain (76) along with captain Andrew Gleave (53) put on 141 for the first wicket which put the match under Delph's control and before blistering rapid knocks from Graeme Simpson (22) and Arron Lilley (31) put the match beyond any doubt as Delph romped home, cutting the lead to 7 points from a huge 22 points only three weeks earlier. Two wins from three will secure a third Byrom Shield for Hoylandswaine but after suffering a trio of league defeats on the bounce, there may be further twists in this tale yet.
At the bottom of the table, Barkisland's five season stint in the Premiership has come to an ignominious end as they slipped to a seventh home defeat in a season to forget. Cawthorne were the visitors and played with freedom having already assured their own safety as they limited the home side to 217-9. Jake Finch (63) and Jamie Summerscales (50) top scored for Barkisland but they were undone by the fierce bowling of Dan Strickland (5-59) and well-known Iqbal Khan (3-62). Cawthorne reached 221-5 in reply as openers Ayrton Dehmel (94) and Ben Simpson (66) made sure of a Cawthorne win.
Golcar rescued themselves from a certain defeat which would have proved incredibly costly given the way most matches amongst their fellow strugglers went. Visitors Moorlands kept the home side under pressure by bowling out Golcar for 193, overseas Upal Bandara (50) again put in a crucial half-century but Moorlands' opening bowler Nicky Smith (6-44) equalled it with another devastating showing. Moorlands will rue a late collapse as they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and were bowled out for 188 with the main man Bandara (5-40) completing a brilliant individual performance.
Skelmanthorpe went to Sykes Cup winners Scholes and pulled off an excellent win to keep up their momentum. Scholes, who were missing some potent batting power with Devon Smith, Joe Carton and Callum Hill all returning to their homelands still managed to put on a defendable score with Tom Brook (130), pushed well up the order to compensate smashing a brilliant century as Scholes set 244ao. The away side were missing captain James Crossland but Mike Kitson (95) and Shaun Alderson (52) ensured Skelmanthorpe bagged six valuable points as they reached their target with six overs left.
Shepley, themselves hampered with important players missing, registered a fine win in a typically low-scoring Marsh Lane encounter with Broad Oak. The home side were dismissed for 137 as six Broad Oak bowlers got in amongst the wickets with Adam France (3-59), Jack Wadsworth (2-24) and Ben Hyde (2-13) reaping the benefits of a bowler-friendly deck. Only Shepley wicketkeeper Shahban Raheem (69) prevented total annihilation. With their fabulous previous weeks win away at Hoylandswaine still fresh in the mind, Shepley again put in an inspired bowling performance to rout Broad Oak as opening bowlers Nasir Jamal (4-22) and Archie Greaves (5-35) decimated the visitors who were 91ao in the 25th over. Raheem took three more catches to home in on surely a second successive wicketkeeper victims prize.
Kirkburton made a huge stride in reaching safety as they put Thongsbridge to the sword at Riley Lane. 'Burton's score of 199ao was far too many for the visitors who probably need at least another win to make sure they're not dragged into the pressure pot on the final weekend. Iqbal Zafar (3-37) and Ben Howitt (3-28) did their utmost to stem Kirkburton's scoring with Rohan Randhawa (43), Toby Booth (42) and Jonathan Butterfield (50) all contributing for the hosts. Opening Thongsbridge batsman Ben Raven-Hill (48) could only watch in vain as his teammates wilted under hostile bowling from Gavin Smith (4-19) and Javaid Ahmad (4-18) as the visitors disintegrated to 79ao in reply.
Armitage Bridge have also been monitoring proceedings at the bottom of the table with a sense of apprehension but scored a great win at a tough venue; Honley. They bowled well to limit Honley to 146-9 with captain Daniel Moorhouse (4-24) keeping the home side on a tight leash. They made hard work of a low target as Armitage Bridge reached 147-7 with Saqib Matlub (28), Jaycub Curtling (39) and Robin Broom (37) all making key contributions with the bat. Bridge will fancy another win to make absolutely sure of safety with a crunch match away at Golcar on Sun 3rd September likely to be decisive.
It's turning into a three-way shootout at the top of the table as Rastrick slumped to their second straight defeat against second-placed Shelley as they go neck and neck at the summit. Rastrick were bowled out for 176; Faisal Javed (65) doing his level best as Nick Sharp (6-47) was being dangerous with the ball. Shelley paced their chase well and were worthy winners reaching 181-4 in reply with Joe Sykes (54no) and Ranjith Bandula-Don (29no) seeing Shelley over the line.
Mirfield Parish Cavaliers are the other team in the promotion-seeking mÃ©nage Ã trois and they competed a comfortable victory over the team that joined them in promotion from the Conference last term. Parish put on 237-9 with Tim Orrell (63) and Rashid Yousaf (52) laying the perfect platform in a big opening stand. Nazar Hussain (48) added runs with Wesleyans' Ben Sufflebotham (3-45) and Ashley Smith (3-80) amongst the wickets. Almondbury Wesleyans' upper order was peppered from the bowling of Hussain (2-32) who accounted for the two opening batsmen before Tom Fretwell (3-25) and Dan Hope (3-29) mopped up the lower order to reduce Wes to 135ao and plenty short of the first innings score.
Elland's promotion challenge will need to wait another season as their defeat away at Clayton West left them with an 13 point gap between them and the pacesetters. Tom Barber (6-33) was devastating with the ball as Elland's 120ao was knocked off for the loss of six wickets. The win meant Clayton West moved above Elland into fourth place but harbour no realistic hope of promotion with a 12 point gap and inferior head to head records against the top two.
Meltham relegated Linthwaite in a crucial 'must-win' match at the bottom of the table which also relegated Kirkheaton. Batting first, Meltham made their way to 247-8 thanks to a cluster of key performances from opening batsman Sam Clegg (55), Main Israr-Ul-Haq (40) and Midasar Butt (40). Linthwaite couldn't answer that and they subsided to 154ao with only opening bat Wajid Hussain (44) coming up with any resolve as Butt (3-39), Abdul Hamid (3-65) and Ibrar Hussain (3-28) worked them over with the ball.
Kirkheaton's fate was confirmed as they were outplayed by Holmfirth in a performance that summed up their season with their three year stint in the Championship now at an end. They were bowled out for 78 as Max Gummerson (5-31) and Abdul Gafoor (3-32) routed them. Holmfirth then went on to knock off the low total with the loss of no wickets as openers Jake Morley (51no) and Elliot Santner (31no) both carried their bats in a thoroughly one-sided victory.
Lascelles Hall came out on top in a mid-table tussle with Slaithwaite. Home side Lascelles Hall made 239ao, indebted to a great knock by Sheheryar Hassan (76). Slaithwaite's reply hit the buffers and were all out for 172 as Hassan (3-46) completed a fine all-round performance along with Zeeshan Khan (5-56).
Cedar Court Conference
Lepton Highlanders are back in the Championship after a four year wait as their win secured the Conference title after all other teams in the top five remarkably lost. Lepton travelled to Marsden and kept the hosts restricted to 147-4 with Joe Smith (58) high scoring for Marsden. Visitors Lepton had to recover from 0-2 but after Asif Hussain (81no) played himself in his class told and Lepton went on to reach 151-6, despite the efforts of Marsden bowler Mark Johnson (4-52). Congratulations to all involved at Lepton Highlanders.
Elswhere Almondbury (100ao) came out on top in a low-scorer at home to Denby Dale (55ao). Cumberworth United remain in second place as they were 200ao with opponents Thustonland reaching 201-6. Hall Bower missed the chance to capitalise as they crashed to 118 in response to Mirfield's 171ao. Upperthong were easy winners at home to Birkby Rose Hill with the visitors 90ao and Upperthong reaching 94-7. Emley Clarence are left to regret a poor start to the season as they're finishing the season strong with another win at home to Denby, who made 217-7 and were undone by Emley who overhauled it with 220-4.