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2015: St Lawrence, Methley, Hopton Mills, Great Preston Jer Lane and Heckmondwike win titles

2015: St Lawrence, Methley, Hopton Mills, Great Preston Jer Lane and Heckmondwike win titles

Living in the shadows of their local rivals Pudsey Congs for so longt there was clear delight at Tofts Road  Pudsey St Lawrence won the Division One title in 2015, banishing 24 years of hurt.

There were signs that things were starting to happen at Tofts Road when they beat Cleckheaton in the Priestley Cup final in 2014. However, the title was regarded as the holy grail in the minds of the players, supporters and committee, and at last they delivered.

In the end they won it by the comfortable margin of 29 points, but that does not tell the real story. Leading the table since the start of the season, they had a slump in the last third of the season which allowed Woodlands into real contention.

They went into the last match at Cleckheaton needing seven points for the title against a side with a freakish mathematical chance to overtake them. In a hard fought match and after batting first on a green wicket, St Lawrence overcame Cleckheaton comfortably and ironically did not need a single point as Woodlands lost.

The traditional strength of the team was still the batting, but the trio of spinners they employed was a very telling weapon. There was a certain buzz about their `out-cricket’ which was not evident in previous years, and James Smith had engendered a definite `cutting edge’ to his side.

Left-hander Mark Robertshaw proved beyond doubt his claim to be the most consistent batsman in the league by retaining the League Batting Averages Trophy with 1,003 runs at 59.00. That was the third time in five years he had scored 1,000 runs in a season. He also retained the Player’s Player Award for 2015.

Robertshaw and his opening partner Adam Waite (706 runs) gave their side so many fine starts that it allowed James Smith (561) and Chris Marsden (642) to bat freely and score the quick runs in the later overs.

The spinners proved to be a crucial element to the title win with Tom Hudson, Steve Watts and Marsden all topping 30 wickets. Leg spinner Hudson was the pick of the bowlers with 37 wickets at 15.65,

Young seamer Josh Wilson had a fine debut season with the new ball taking 29 wickets at 16.97.

Wilson was the latest cricketing prospect to break through from the fine Tofts Road junior set-up. That was also illustrated in the manner that the youthful Second Team took all before them in their competition, winning the Division One title and Priestley Shield. 

Not content with winning the title in 2015, the Saints won it again in 2016, with skipper Smith heading the Bradford League Batting Averages with 684 runs at 52.62.

For Woodlands, 2015 was a transitional season with the late departure of Simon Mason upsetting their batting order, and the introduction of young players Elliot Richardson and Jordan Laban.

The batting suffered from early collapses and was often bailed out by the consistent Logan Weston, who scored 644 runs at 40.25, and a resolute tail end. Despite this, they challenged strongly for the title and only a late surprise defeat at East Bierley negated their chances. 

Left arm spinner Brice was again their talisman in the field, striking at vital times and taking 68 wickets at 11.96. This earned him the First Division Bowling Averages for the second time in his career. Another notable achievement was Logan Weston’s impressive haul of 21 outfield catches.

Woodlands as ever, managed to take a piece of silverware back to Albert Terrace, and this time it was the Heavy Woollen Cup.

They beat some good sides in Barkisland, Wakefield Thornes and Pudsey Congs on route to the final at Ossett. Without their skipper Pieter Swanepoel, and carrying injuries, they went into the final as second favourites against a very strong Hoylandswaine side who had won the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy in 2013. 

Woodlands took first strike and found batting to be extremely difficult as the ball seamed around. Skipper Sam Frankland (25) battled hard but could not prevent his side sinking to 89-6. Weston rallied his side making a valuable 59 from 106 balls, and with contributions from the tail, the final score crept up to 182.

Hoylandswaine looked to be in for a regulation win as their first pair put on 81 at a canter. However, Brice separated the pair, the momentum began to shift, and a dramatic collapse resulted in Hoylandswaine being 135-9 after the introduction of Scott Richardson (above). He took 5-43 to rip the heart out of the innings and earned the Man of the Match award for his efforts.

 He was ably assisted by Brice who produced a masterful spell of 3-14 in his ten overs, and opening bowler Sarfraz Ahmed who only conceded eight runs in eight overs.

Woodlands second team lifted the Crowther Cup for the third time in four seasons.

Bradford & Bingley won the Priestley Cup for the tenth time, with a convincing 106-run Final win over Lightcliffe. Their match-winner was paceman Matthew Simpson, who was playing in his first final, and won the man of the match award. He took 4-33 to rip the heart out of the Lightcliffe top order as they replied to Bradford & Bingley's 237-7. 

Wicketkeeper Charlie Best, who was their top scorer with 50, also had a fine league season with the gloves winning the League’s F Milton Watmouth Wicketkeeping Trophy for most victims. 

Suleman Khan of Lightcliffe won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.

Other achievers that year were Humayun Shahzad of Keighley, who won the Fastest Fifty Trophy in 15 balls, and Gary Fellows and Nick Connolly who had the highest aggregate stand of the year of 298 runs for the first wicket, playing for Hanging Heaton.

In the last Central Yorkshire League season, Methley won the Premier title and Jack Hampshire Cup double for the second successive season.

They led the table for most of the time with their old rivals Townville breathing down their neck. However, by August 15th their slender lead at the top evaporated completely when Wakefield Thornes took over the lead as Methley suffered a resounding defeat by Wrenthorpe who chased down 225-7 to win by nine wickets. This left the top four divided by just seven points.

Astonishingly, Methley reversed this defeat against Wrenthorpe the very next day in the Jack Hampshire Cup final at Methley, by winning the tie in a mere two hours.

In an unprecedented one sided final they skittled Wrenthorpe out for 55 in 18.1 overs with Sohail Raz taking 5-24, and in doing so claiming the Man of the Match trophy. Methley’s openers Richard Foster (39*) and Marcus Walmsley (17*) then proceeded to hit the runs off in six overs. 

In a tense last day of the season, and rain threatening to have an undue influence in the destination of the title, Methley beat Birstall to prevail by three points.

The influence of the Walmsley twins was plain to see as they figured high in both the batting and bowling league averages. Skipper Marcus, above, scored 630 runs for an average of 38.38 and also took 52 wickets at 15.92, while Edward scored 471 runs at 67.29, and claimed 46 wickets at 13.83. 

Other top performers were Luke Patel who scored 720 runs at 51.43 and Richard Foster, below, who bettered that tally with 798 at 42.00.

 

Methley also reached the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Cup Final for the first time in a trophy the Central Yorkshire League had never won.

They had beaten reigning winners Elsecar in the First Round by 88 runs after amassing 313-8 with Foster top-scoring with 125. After a bye into the final, after Woodhouse Grange had conceded because of their National Village Trophy exploits, they faced a strong Yorkshire Academy side. 

Batting first Methley were in a good position at 84-1 but lost momentum in the face of accurate bowling. Foster (49) was the only player to partially cash-in amongst five batters who were well set before being dismissed.

The final score of 220-9 was not expected to extend the opposition, but their undue caution nearly played into the hands of Methley. Entering the last over they needed six runs to win and duly achieved that in two balls, winning by six wickets. It had been a sterling effort in the field by Methley with paceman Mustafa Bashir taking 3-47, and Marcus Walmsley bowling his ten overs for 17 runs. 

Townville finished third behind Wakefield Thornes who were closer to Methley. There were some notable individual performances- Chris Holliday scored 1,034 runs at 73.86, while Kristian Ward also thrived, contributing 614 runs with the bat.

Jack Hughes had now matured into one of the leading cricketers in the league, scoring 653 runs and taking 68 wickets at 9.68. This performance won him the League Bowling Averages and also the All Rounders Trophy.

Wrenthorpe, who finished fourth, had great service from South African Daryl Hendricks who scored 1,063 runs at 75.93, with a top score of 163*. Hendricks, who picked up the league prizes for best average and run aggregate, had previously made his name playing First Class cricket in South Africa for Boland.

Another good batting performance came from Greg Wood, who had first developed his game at Wrenthorpe before moving on to Yorkshire’s books, averaged 92.20 in nine innings for the club.

The best bowler was accurate seamer James Glynn who took 38 wickets at 21.45. He picked up the Don Nicholson award for the outstanding individual performance for taking 9-11 in a league match.

Hopton Mills won the Central Yorkshire League Championship division (second sphere) thanks to a powerful batting side that piled the runs on throughout the season. Stephen Bland won the league batting averages with 485 runs at 44.09, and he enjoyed able assistance from Ashley Mackereth (718 runs), Neil Brown (601 runs) and the consistent Chris Scott (554 runs

The two constants in the Hopton Mills side were Chris Scott and opening bowler Michael Carroll who could rightfully be described as the backbone of the team in this era.

Another major happening that year for Hopton Mills came when Yorkshire’s former England bowler Ryan Sidebottom officially opened enhanced practice facilities prior to the season’s start on Sunday, January 25. Club officials had secured a grant of £46,000 from Biffa Award to breathe new life into its practice facilities.

Great Preston, who had left the Wetherby League to join forces with the Central Yorkshire League in 2015, were afforded a Division One berth, which was effectively the third division. Any notion of quiet consolidation evaporated as they embarked on a title fight with East Leeds.

The fact that they pulled it off was due in no small measure to the deeds of Australian Matthew King. He won the Division One Batting Averages with 1,030 runs at 128.75 with a top score of 153 not out, and also took the All Rounders Trophy.

Another influential batsman was Sri Lankan Danusha Ranasinghe who contributed 479 runs at 47.90. Ranasinghe became a UK resident after living in England for a number of years and subsequently qualified to play.

Andrew Clark, who had won the Wetherby Bowling Averages in 2002, replicated the deed in the Central Yorkshire League by taking 43 wickets at 14.09 with a top analysis of 6-18.

Jer Lane completed a hat-trick of title wins of the Halifax Premier League; the major run-getters in the league were Raqeeb Younas (882) and Wayne Cotton (866).

Heckmondwike & Carlinghow won the Huddersfield Central League Premier League title in a torrid scrap with Green Moor.

Paul Cooper was the outstanding player, excelling in all areas. He scored 718 runs at 47.87, took 27 wickets costing 14.93 each and he also held onto 13 outfield catches.

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