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Battle is on for places in Priestley Cup final

Battle is on for places in Priestley Cup final

Woodlands v Hanging Heaton

No doubt that the neutrals will head for Albert Terrace to see the title rivals in the Premier League battle it out in the Priestley Cup semi-final. Hanging Heaton has surprisingly not won the Priestley Cup for 33 years, and the club will doubtless feel they are well overdue, and this could be their year.

Woodlands have the definite edge in the title race, and have won the Priestley Cup twice under Tim Jackson’s captaincy in the last three years.

How They Got There

Woodlands

Woodlands were drawn against local rivals Cleckheaton in the First Round, and ended up winning to the tune of 84-runs. However, their batting was not entirely convincing and at 36-4 they were in big trouble. Left hander Liam Collins, pictured, bailed them out with a swashbuckling 78 to take the score to 196 all-out. Cleckheaton struggled all the way with the bat, finally collapsing to the leg spin of Brad Schmulian (3-50).

They travelled to Gomersal in the next round, and on a cloudy and brooding day, openers Sam Frankland (116) and Tim Jackson (101) shared a first-wicket stand of 219. The final total was 283-4 which proved to be 225-runs too many for Gomersal.

Frankland struck four sixes and 12 fours while Jackson’s innings contained one six and 10 fours. After a rain break delayed their reply, Gomersal were dismissed for just 58 with off spinner Kez Ahmed (4-27) and paceman Elliot Richardson (3-7) being the chief destroyers.

At the quarter-final stage Woodlands were expected to be tested by Methley as they had their two Yorkshire players Matthew Waite and Jarred Warner available.

 Methley batted first and looked to have the foundation for a good score when openers Jarred Warner (37) and Marcus Walmsley (33) shared a stand of 74. After that, only Matthew Waite with an innings of 43 looked like threatening Woodlands with a big score. The innings closed on an under par 177 as Brad Schmulian picked up 3-25.

An opening stand of 113 between Frankland (74) and Jackson (35) took all the pressure off Woodlands, and they went on to overhaul Methley’s total with 16.3 overs to spare.

Hanging Heaton

Hanging Heaton were drawn against two Championship One sides in the early rounds, and the winning outcomes were totally different.

In the First Round they reached 306-8 against Bankfoot after Gary Fellows hit the round's highest score of 132. Fellows, who hit four sixes and 17 fours, was joined in an opening stand of 176 by Nick Connolly (77).

Bankfoot were not daunted by the challenge facing them and made a great effort to reach the target. At one stage in the closing overs, they appeared to have a real chance, but eventually they were bowled out for 288.

It was opening bowler Tom Chippendale that killed off any hopes of an upset with late wickets finishing with figures of 5-32.

It was far more straightforward in the next round at Keighley with Hanging Heaton winning by ten wickets. The home team was bowled out for 115 after slow left armer Callum Bethel made his presence felt with the impressive bowling analysis of 6-19.

In what was billed as the top match of the quarter-finals at Tofts Road, Hanging Heaton made sure it was an anti-climax for the neutral spectator.

Pudsey St Lawrence made the decision to bat first and saw their first four batsmen get ducks as the score was a disastrous 2-4.There was a slight recovery, and Barrie Frankland made a battling 25, but the 93-allout score didn’t challenge a strong Hanging Heaton batting line-up.

They were powered to a seven-wicket success by left-hander Callum Geldart who hit five sixes and three fours in an unbeaten 50.

Hanging Heaton cricket secretary Andrew Hunt is under no illusions about the size of the task his side faces at Albert Terrance on Sunday. “It’s a tough game- any side 40-plus points clear at the top at the half-way stage must be a good team. We know it’s going to be difficult”.

The last time Hanging Heaton won the Priestley Cup, Hunt was a child, but he can remember the back-to back wins. He said: “We won in 1985 and 1986 in finals at Park Avenue and Undercliffe, and I can remember Ronnie Hudson’s fantastic 151 against Eccleshill”.

Asked about whether the Priestley Cup is very much in focus to win with it being so elusive for the club, Hunt added: “Since our two cup wins we have had two losing finals, and we feel we were handicapped by the rain on both occasions.

"We are well overdue to win it, especially for our chairman John Carruthers who has won virtually everything as a player and committee member, but this has passed him by. In fact I don’t think any  player from our present side has won it."

Hunt concluded, “We are under no illusions about the Woodlands tie. We need to be on top of our game”.

New Farnley v Baildon

New Farnley, who won the Priestley Cup two years ago, have had a troubled season and will see this semi-final as a wonderful opportunity to gain some glory.

Baildon last won the cup in 2001, and have launched a concerted effort to win promotion this season to the Premier League. They have slipped back in the league and this will be a test of their credentials.

How They Got There

New Farnley

In the First Round they defeated a determined Townville side, but it was far from straightforward. New Farnley batted first and at 4-2 and 46-3 they were in danger of setting a very small total. However, they reached 213-9 largely through an excellent knock from Billy Whitford who finished unbeaten on 88 after coming in at No.7.

Townville were well on course for victory at 154-4, but rookie left-arm spinner Sam Barraclough took the key wickets in a crucial bowling spell of 4-34. The tail-end just couldn’t scramble together the handful of runs needed and they finished six-runs short in 42.4 overs.

The next round was a little easier but, New Farnley still had to work hard for their 49-run victory at Wrenthorpe. However, it shouldn’t have been so close given the score they got.

Alex Baldwin and Dan Hodgson built a record partnership for the competition after coming together when the score was 2-1. Baldwin, promoted to open, hit a fine 118, while Hodgson continued his early-season form with 102. Baldwin hit two sixes and 14 fours while Hodgson struck eight fours as New Farnley made 310-4.

Wrenthorpe at one stage looked like possible winners, but missed out in the end with Farnley’s young spinner Sam Barraclough picking up 3-54.

In the Quarter-Finals New Farnley were again made to work hard when they beat Championship One promotion chasers Morley by 5-wickets.

Morley batted first and struggled all the way settling for 124 all-out, with Mark Lawson (3-15) and Sam Barraclough (3-12) being the major wicket-takers.

New Farnley’s top order were far from convincing and it was left to Dan Hodgson (48no) to guide them home by five wickets.

It’s ironic that for all the talk about the `big players’ at New Farnley, young spinner Sam Barraclough has emerged unheralded, as the most prolific wicket-taker for the side in the cup so far.

Baildon

Baildon began the competition with a bye, before playing a Batley side that had previously beaten them in the league. There would be no repeat at Jenny Lane as Baildon prevailed by 35-runs after a record breaking stand.

Australian Blair Oakley hit an unbeaten 121, a knock containing four sixes and 12 fours. Skipper Jonny Reynolds joined Oakley in a fourth-wicket partnership worth 211, as he made a fine 106. Their stand beat the previous competition record of 199, and took the score to 326-5.

Batley fought all the way and former Baildon batter Kasir Maroof unleashed an array of attacking strokes in a magnificent innings of 151. He struck seven sixes and 10 fours, but despite his efforts his side finished short on 291-9.

In the quarter-finals Baildon were expected to meet stern opposition from a revived East Bierley. Instead it turned out to be an easy victory by 145-runs as the usual suspects Reynolds and Oakley helped to post a score of 286.

Skipper Jonny Reynolds hit his second century in this years’ competition, hitting four sixes and 12 fours while making 113 in a third-wicket stand of 195 with Oakley (69). Oakley followed up by taking 4-41 as East Bierley limped to 141.

Baildon couldn’t be playing New Farnley at the worst time now they have their full strength side back in harness. Andrew Brewster has returned to the side after a long injury problem, and will pair up with Alex Lilley to form arguably the best opening attack in the league.

Baildon committee man Steve Mottram has no illusions about the task in hand. He said: “We know we go into this game as massive underdogs against a very good team in New Farnley. But, if we can produce the form that has got us this far, then we can hopefully put in a good performance and a good showing for a team currently a division below.

“Our league form coming into this game has been rather disappointing after a good start to the season. The only bright spot has been the massive achievement which occurred at Morley last week, when Mushy (Mustaq Ahmed) got his 1,000 Bradford League wicket. Big congratulations to him as he has been a brilliant servant to the club.”

Ahmed doesn’t usually make himself available for the Priestley Cup on a Sunday, and Mottram could not confirm whether he would make an exception on this occasion. If he did, he could turn out to be Baildon’s trump card with his idiosyncratic left arm bowling that can still test the very best.

Mottram concluded: “As previously stated, our cup form has been good with `back to back’ centuries from skipper Jonny Reynolds. The players should put league form to the back of their minds and hopefully take pride at being in a semi-final of such a prestigeous cup. After all we are potentially one game away from a final”.

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