Saqib Matlub’s battling performance helped Armitage Bridge crush Honley and reach the Sykes Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1978. Broad Oak took the Colne Valley bragging rights over Golcar for the second season running and last season’s finalists Hoylandswaine and Moorlands continued their progress with wins over Barkisland and Thongsbridge.
Aside from veteran wicketkeeper Richard Holmes, the entire Armitage Bridge lineup at home to Honley in the Sykes Cup quarter final weren’t even born when the club last graced the semi-final of the competition. Four long decades have passed since Bridge were outmuscled by eventual winners Broad Oak in 1978 and the two clubs may just meet again this time after Saqib Matlub’s (pictured above) heroics made a mockery of the formbook to deny Honley for the second time this season. The tall right-handed batsman stroked a fine 85 before being run out as he and opener Bevan Coveley (55) set up an formidable 226-5 total that proved too big an ask for Honley. The two Armitage Bridge men soaked up dangerous spinners Timmy Taylor and Lewis Kenworthy and cannily milked runs from the others. Honley’s reply was blunted almost immediately when Taylor and dangerous opener Lewis Evans were removed before reaching double figures leaving a mountain to climb for seasoned opening bat Simon Kelly. He put in a stout shift by making 44 but when he was out, bowled by Sohail Butt (3-20), Bridge ruthlessly closed off their reply by dismissing the visitors for exactly 100, way short of their revised 202 run target.
Sykes Cup holders Moorlands reserved their magic for the big occasion once again by ousting Thongsbridge in a high-scoring Miry Lane clash. Indian import Pragam Sharma continued his fine form by registering his third half-century in four matches with an exceptional 91 from 74 balls, which was backed up by Thongsbridge captain Alex Kemp’s 46. Nadim Hussain took 3-40 for the Mirfield club as Thongsbridge set 241-8 which was later reduced to 232 via Duckworth-Lewis. Moorlands put their dicey league form to one side and bared their considerable batting power to maintain a course to retain the trophy they secured for the first time last season. Eddie Walmsley (pictured above), whose work commitments have prevented him from regularly turning out, showed no rustiness here as he fired a gloriously fluent 88. Michael McEwan (45) and Siraj Sajid (44) played sound supporting acts to Walmsley’s leading roll and Moorlands comfortably matched the required rate all the way by finishing with 236-4.
Hoylandswaine have made it to the semi-final stage every season since 2015 and continued this remarkable run with a routine success over Barkisland. Asif Iqbal’s (pictured above) marvellous innings set the stage as his unbeaten 132 put the game well beyond the reach of their hosts, allowing others to keep the score racing along. Arron Lilley contributed 47 away from his T20 Blast duties with Leicestershire as Swaine racked up 310-9. Adeel Baig then took 4-20 and formidable opening bowler Junaid Khan 3-32 as the reply was quickly concluded with Barkisland being bowled out for 120.
Golcar’s impressive run of victories was brought abruptly to a halt as Broad Oak again came away victors in their second Sykes Cup meeting here in two seasons. Tom McCreadie’s (pictured above) bolshie half-century helped set up an imposing first innings score of 244-6. Charlie Roebuck (25) and Alex Slack (27no) both missed the previous day's league outing but contributed scores here. Oak’s opening bat Ben Lowden (28), skipper Dominic Finn (21) and Fletcher Coutts (42) also helped boost the total to put the game beyond reach. Golcar’s chances of progressing were dealt a further blow when opening batsman James Howson, a former Broad Oak player, succumbed to a serious achilles injury and they were eventually dismissed for 138ao. An incomplete scorecard prevented us from reporting any further.