Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium where the day-night final was played
DAVID Toft inspired Wakefield Thornes to victory in the inaugural Yorkshire Premier League Championship Play-Off final in Abu Dhabi.
He made a sparkling 137 and took 3-63 as the All Rounder Cricket Yorkshire ECB Premier League South side defeated Pudsey St Lawrence by 39 runs in a high-scoring encounter by 39 runs.
His performance even overshadowed a fine innings of 112 from St Lawrence opener Mark Robertshaw on a day which proved a tremendous climax to the first season of Yorkshire Premier League cricket.
The match at the magnificent Zayed Stadium was played in searing heat. The temperature was 36 degrees when play started and remained above 30 right through to its conclusion under the floodlights.
Winning the toss proved a significant bonus for Wakefield Thornes who took full advantage of skipper Tom Froggett’s decision to bat first.
St Lawrence’s bowlers found the going tough. They didn’t help their cause by dropping several chances and conceding 16 wides.
Toft, who arrived at the crease after Richie Lamb dismissed opener James Wolfenden for 14, survived a confident lbw appeal first ball.
|Man of the match David Toft with Yorkshire Cricket Premier League chairman Alan Birkinshaw
The left hander made the most of his narrow escape. Three sixes and 14 fours flowed from his bat as he dominated the bowling in a 109-ball innings.
He shared a third-wicket stand of 104 with Matthew Jordan (48) before a mix-up led to the latter being run out.
As the St Lawrence attack wilted in the sun, Toft raced on to his century. He mixed power and subtlety as he guided his side to an imposing total of 296-5.
St Lawrence hoped that they could take advantage of the superb batting conditions as they began their reply under the floodlights, but they were rocked as a magnificent opening spell from Mahmood Rasool saw them reduced to 28-3.
It left skipper Robertshaw and skipper James Smith with a massive rebuilding job which they tackled in great style.
Smith was his usual forceful self while Robertshaw played with calm assurance. Together they changed the momentum of the game with a fourth-wicket stand of 122.
Smith coasted to his half century before holing out off the bowling of man of the match Toft for 68. It was a crucial blow.
Robertshaw was joined by Chris Marsden who put his recent poor form behind him with a knock of 46. He used the reverse sweep to good effect before being bowled by Steve Morgan just when Thornes were coming under pressure.
With the required rate climbing, Robertshaw completed his century, an innings containing eight fours, before he was dismissed for 112.
St Lawrence lost their last four wickets for six runs as Wakefield Thornes crowned their dream season by lifting the White Rose Trophy.
Thornes skipper Tom Froggett admitted: “It all feels a bit surreal at the moment. Dave Toft was amazing. He batted for three hours in 36 degree heat and then bowled ten overs.
“I really don’t know how he and Mark Robertshaw for St Lawrence managed to bat for so long. Winning caps a great season for us.”
His counterpart, James Smith, said: “Thornes are the best drilled side I have played against. They are a tight-knit unit and are worthy winners.
“Dave Toft played a great innings for them. He works the balls into different areas and is a fine player.”
He added: “We didn’t bowl or field as well as we can and when we were 28-3 I was determined that we weren’t going to roll over. Mark Robertshaw and I dug in at first and tried to pick up the scoring rate.
“We were starting to put pressure on Thornes when I got out. Chris Marsden kept the tempo going and Mark made a great ton, but it wasn’t enough.”
|The victorious Wakefield Thornes team with the White Rose Trophy
Picture: Mark Heald, The All Rounder Cricket Bradford Premier League