Featured Image: Benji Birkhead was the Scholes hero with a crucial 92 to stun leaders Hoylandswaine in a thrilling, hard-fought victory. It allowed Delph to close the gap and draw level on points with Hoylandswaine at the top of the table
Photo courtesy of Paul Ibbotson
It was an action-packed Sunday in the Drakes Premiership programme with leaders Hoylandswaine slipping to a narrow one wicket defeat which allowed Delph & Dobcross to take a small advantage and shared top spot with an equal H2H and pts per game average.
Table toppers Swaine have swept all before them so far this campaign and welcomed an inconsistent Scholes side to Haigh Lane who had just come off the back of a disappointing defeat against Golcar. But as so often happens in this absorbing league, any team can be a match for each other on their chosen day. Having asked Hoylandswaine to bat first they soon had their high-flying hosts in serious trouble as the normally fluent top order misfired spectacularly. Chris Holliday, SP Singh and Gharib Nawaz were all out in the opening salvos as the brothers Louis (3-45) and Tom Brook (3-58) got to work. A partnership developed between Max Joice (55) and Gurman Rhandawa (65) which appeared to resume normal service but they couldn't exert complete control and had to settle for 244ao. Scholes' marquee signing Devon Smith didn't quite get to grips in the way he had previously against Golcar but an outstanding 94 from Yorkshire Academy prospect Benji Birkhead put Scholes well within a shout. Despite Rhanhawa (4-53) and Mohammad Bilal (3-94) almost turning the tide back into Swaine's favour, Mark Floyd held his nerve and crashed the winning runs in the final over to secure a surprising 1 wicket win for Scholes.
All the while Floyd was winning the game for Scholes, Delph & Dobcross were picking up another win at home to rock-bottom Barkisland. They didn't have it all their own way however and were made to work hard by a determined Barkisland outfit missing their key spinner Matthew Steers. The visitors were off to a flyer having been made to bat first and put on 91 for the opening wicket between Alex Kaye (45) and Jamie Summerscales (30). However a few tweaks to Delph's bowling order saw recent signing Michael Finan (4-53) start to expose Barkisland's frail batting and wickets fell with alarming frequency. Skipper Darren Robinson held things together enough for Barkisland to post 250ao and they had unbeaten Delph on the ropes early on in the reply by taking the scalps of Simpson, Goswami, Procter and Gleave. With Delph in trouble on 142-5, that man Finan (53no) capped an incredible home debut by joining up with opener Mosun Hussain (119no) and steering them to a five-wicket victory with a stunning hundred partnership. Former Yorkshire Academy player Hussain with his fourth century of a fantastic season that has already seen him past 700 runs in only six weeks of cricket.
5th met 6th at Broad Oak where the home team ran out 1 run winners at home to Honley who suffered back to back defeats on their weekend travels. Jack Hargreaves' side set Honley 224-7 from their 50 overs with Ben Hyde (81) and Hargreaves (50) the main contributors. Honley were hampered by a hand-injury to wicket keeper Joe McNamara which meant that their skipper Simon Kelly was required to deputise for much of their innings. Honley looked to be firmly on track especially after Bjorn Taylor (95) and Will Frain (66) fired them into a commanding position, but Broad Oak fought back and the unfortunate McNamara had a miserable weekend summed up by being run out on the final ball with Honley just a single run short.
Moorlands fell to defeat away at Cawthorne. The third placed side were made to toil in the field first as Cawthorne smashed the afternoon's biggest score in 340-6. The well-travelled Iqbal Khan (126no) and Liam Wiles (88) put the Moorlands bowlers to the sword but their guests made a reasonable fist of chasing such a superior total and posted 287ao in reply. Skipper Andrew Fortis (83) and Australian Cameron French (54) in the runs for the Mirfield-based side.
It was a see-saw match at Shepley where visitors Kirkburton suffered a second consecutive loss. Shepley batting first let slip a solid start to find themselves floundering on 120-6. Nadir Hussain (62no) ensured his team had something substantial to defend as they reached 210-8 at tea. Kirkburton's disappointing recent run of form continued but they at least showed some fighting spirit by pushing Shepley all the way, falling 40 runs short in the end of a thrilling contest. Spinner Danny Wood (5-64) cashing in with a five wicket haul for Shepley who make up ground on third placed Moorlands.
Golcar lost the chance to escape the bottom two and remain in the relegation zone following a loss at Armitage Bridge who made it a 12 point weekend. Jaycub Curtling's fine season got even better with a sparkling all-round display by the Kiwi. A well-earned 126 was followed up with 4-47 as Golcar just couldn't get going and they hit the skids on 141ao with only wicket keeper Mark Wilson (39) troubling the scorers.
Another club in a desperate amount of peril is Skelmanthorpe and they failed to follow up their morale-boosting win on the Saturday with another to push them further towards safety. A solid platform is always the key to a high score and Ben Raven-Hill (76) and Jed Standring (60) gave them that as Thongsbridge clobbered 307-9 batting first. Skelmanthorpe however collected two points - especially valuable given most teams at the bottom failed to pick up any - by running Thongsbridge close in reply. Contributions came across the board for Skelmanthorpe but South-African Philip Visser (5-69) kept the away team in check as they made 285ao.