Premier League Second Team League Cup Final: Batley v Bradford & Bingley
Batley and Bradford & Bingley were convincing winners of their respective groups, and this should be a hotly contested game. It’s worth noting that Bradford & Bingley was the only team playing in a higher division than their true position in the league structure. In reality they should be in Division One, and they have actually finished top of Premier West.
Divisional One Second Team League Cup Final: Baildon v Pudsey Congs
Baildon’s First Team might have finished bottom of Division One West with the one victory, but they can point to this weekend’s Divisional One Second Team League Cup Final against Pudsey Congs as progress of sorts.
There is a bigger picture to First Team success to the club this season. They have turned out four sides, despite the restrictions of Covd-19, and have afforded opportunities to their brightest young players in senior cricket.
The development of brothers Will Kelly and Samuel Kelly in First Team cricket indicates that the future could be bright for the Jenny Laners.
Baildon’s Second Eleven lost two group matches but pipped Northowram Fields by four-points to reach the final.
Their ebullient skipper Darren Wilson, pictured top, has put the season into context: “After taking over the captaincy in 2018, and winning the league in the first season, the plan for the second team was to consolidate in the Premier Division.
"However, it was clear that the standard of that division had risen to new heights since we were last playing there, and whilst we probably shouldn't have been relegated, that was what happened and we found ourselves back to where we started in 2018.
“There was a general consensus within the club that it wasn't such a bad thing. By being back in Championship One, it allowed us to take stock of what we wanted to do, and we had assembled again a squad we knew would be able to compete in this division.
“Of course, the pandemic put paid to most of those plans, but it was a relief when it was announced that cricket would restart again at the end of July. The aim of the second team was very much to enjoy the cricket and take it as it comes, whilst introducing some younger players to the team and giving them opportunities to progress.
“This has happened, but not as consistently as we may have liked, as a number of the younger players have ended up playing for the first team on occasions, because, they have been missing up to five players. Whilst calling it a Dads' Army team may be pushing it, the second team has resembled an older look than we may have hoped.
“However, we still want to blend, progressing youth with winning things, and Saturday presents an opportunity to bring some more silverware to Jenny Lane. I'm sure the Covid Cup has many dissenters who see it as friendly cricket, which is evidenced by how many clubs didn't enter teams, but I certainly don't buy into that. To me, Saturday represents an opportunity to play a cup final on home soil which is something that doesn't happen often.
“More so, the team is packed with players who are Baildon through and through, so I know that adds an extra incentive. That opportunity has also created a real togetherness in the team and it's been a very enjoyable seven games for the second team who have enjoyed the mini season.
“I’m sure Pudsey Congs have adopted the same approach, and it's clear they are following much the same template as us in trying to revive their fortunes. Both second teams were relegated from the top division but have bounced back to win their respective mini leagues, and I'm sure they're looking forward to playing in a final also”.
Wilson concludes: “ I've personally been impressed by their first team's recruitment and the attitude they've shown, and I'm sure the efforts they have put in this year will provide strong foundations for a promotion push next year.
"Likewise, I am confident that the effort that our club has gone to this year to raise four sides every week, and give as many players a game as possible, will continue to reap the rewards in the longer term."
Baildon chairman Ashley Free is pleased how the club has reacted to difficult times, “2020 has been a challenging year for us all, and when we had confirmation that we would be playing part of the season, we had concerns over running our usual four senior teams.
“However, on discussing this with the players, it quickly became clear that there was a desire from the vast majority to play, and we were able to turn out our usual number of teams. I take a lot of pride in this as chairman, as we could have easily have drawn a line under this year, run fewer teams and potentially lost some of our younger players as a result.
“Another thing we have resisted doing is bringing in loan players. This was discussed and with no disrespect to the clubs who have, we would rather our position be reflective of our own players, rather than have a false position because of players coming in who won't be with us in 2021.
“As a result, we have been able to blood some of our youngsters into the first team, with the likes of Hassan Shakoor, Sam Kelly and Will Kelly making the step up. Whilst results didn't always go how we wanted them to, we believe that we are doing things the right way, and the experience for these guys has been invaluable as we look towards next season.
“Running a host of junior teams, with several feeding into our senior teams, we are moving closer to being self sufficient, rather than relying on purely paying players to stay competitive. Again, this isn't a dig at clubs who do this, but our playing sponsorship is no longer a `given’ and we've identified that investing in youth by continuing to grow our vibrant junior section will secure our long term future”.
He concludes, “When I became chairman, I looked at the Pudsey clubs as the vision of how to secure ourselves long term as a multi-team club. This is strong juniors, parents who buy in to our goals and senior captains who want to develop youngsters whilst still aiming for success”.
Divisional Two Second Team League Cup Final: Sandal v Ossett
Sandal had a battle with Wakefield St Michael’s to secure a final place, only prevailing by the one point, while Ossett was ten points clear in their section.
Divisional Three Second Team League Cup Final: Crossbank Methodist’s v Scholes
Crossbank Methodist’s made sure of their final appearance after finishing 15 points clear of second place Spen Victoria in the West Section. Their opponents in the final are Scholes who pipped Adwalton in the East Section.