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Former Lightcliffe opener Michael's Brooke's top second team XI

Former Lightcliffe opener Michael's Brooke's top second team XI

Picking a team based on the best players I have faced in second team cricket has proved a fun exercise bit also a tough task.

Brooke, who has joined Northowram Fields for 2020 to play fin their first team, says: "I’ve played with and against some very talented cricketers during my second team years.

"It brought back happy memories from a decade of enjoyment. The second team Premier Division is getting stronger by the year, which is a ringing endorsement of the promotion and relegation system introduced for second team cricket in 2004.

"I wouldn’t think twice about recommending the league to a younger cricketer. It’s a good mix of up and coming players and talented first team performers, like John Carruthers, Rob McFarlane and Mark Lawson to name but three. Some quality cricketers just failed to make the cut, but here is my team of proven second team match winners from the last decade.

MICHAEL BROOKE'S XI

Rhys Jowett (Lightcliffe)

Rhys sets the standard throughout the league, with his very accomplished batting over the decade. Excellent technique, all the shots, plays pace and spin well and gets the innings off to a good clip. If he gets in, he usually scores big. Really enjoyable to bat with and we had some wonderful times opening up the innings. He has many good years to look forward to. One of many great lads I shared a dressing room with at Lightcliffe.

Andy Pickering (Yeadon, captain)

Yeadon stalwart, has been around forever. Gets the innings off to a solid start. Has thousands of career runs under his belt, which underlines his ability and a left/right handed opening partnership is always a bonus. I would make him captain, to keep my other pick from Yeadon in line. Plenty of Yeadon lads could have made the team, but Andy is deserving of recognition.  Enjoyed some good competitive battles against him and his team-mates down the years.

Ross Monaghan (East Bierley & Farsley)

The Farsley team in the early part of the decade was very useful. The games against Lightcliffe during that period were not for the feint-hearted. But they had some good players, including Ross, Jimmy Higgins, Kirk, Cheesy and skipper Nigel Thornton. Ross has consistently shown over the years what a good player he is. Takes the game to the opposition from ball one and scored a fine ton at Lightcliffe, a couple of years ago, in the blink of an eye. Can throw down a few turners as well.

Jordan Moore (Pudsey St Lawrence)

Good cricketer, consistent with bat and ball and a central part of the successful PSL second team. Can open the bowling or bowl change, always picks up wickets and gets crucial middle order runs. Would walk into a lot of first teams in the championship.

Ahsan Allishan (Bowling Old Lane)

I really rate this lad and expect to see him playing first team cricket soon. His spin bowing is very useful and his classy middle order batter often rescues his team. I always enjoy a trip to Old Lane. They play their cricket hard, but it’s always a good challenge and the ball usually comes on nicely. Ahsan  has been a central cog in their wheel over recent seasons.

Francis Nelson (Hanging Heaton)

Every time I played against him he delivered. Twice I can recall Hanging Heaton being on the rocks and him, batting without fear, turned the game on its head. Accomplished performer and a decent keeper too. He just gets the gloves ahead of big Craig Russell and my former team-mate Chirssy Dyer.

Rob Medcalf (Woodlands)

A mainstay, along with Stevie Pearson and Cieran Garner, of the successful Woodlands team over the last decade. Always chips in with vital runs or key wickets. Seems to get better by the season and he’s another who would be snapped up by first teams in other divisions. Plays it hard on the field, but always time for a chat after the game.

James Byrne (Hanging Heaton)

Following in his dad’s footsteps. A very handy performer with bat and ball. Every team needs a strike bowler to knock a few over early doors. Jimmy does this regularly. More than useful batter who hits a big ball. Once got 70 odd up at Lightcliffe in very few balls. Will be a top performer for years to come.

Micky Horner (Hanging Heaton)

I remember playing against Mick in the early 1990s, when I was just starting out, and have always rated him. He’s a veteran of the Bradford League circuit, giving great service and producing some fine performances over the years. One of the league’s highest wicket takers. Bowls a consistent line and length. Can bat as well and a decent bloke.

Roger Stead (Lightcliffe)

I go back a long way with Roger. After a stella first team career, many as skipper, he had some brilliant years in the second team, regularly at the top of the averages and spearheading the bowling attack. He can also score some vital late order runs, with those famous lusty blows.  He was still playing and achieving into his 60s, which is quite incredible. Respected throughout the league Great to play alongside, and enjoy a beer and share plenty of stories with after the game. Legend is an overused word, but fitting for the ‘Silver Fox’.

Nick Darfield (Yeadon)

What can I say about Gaffer? League stalwart, loves his cricket, competitive and knows how to get under a batter’s skin. His league record with the ball stands the test of time. Basically he had me in his pocket, which he wasn’t shy of reminding me, and plenty of others, about. Usually by text on a Friday night. Always loved a trip to Yeadon, proper day out and a competitive game, great drink in the bar with likes of Les Wood and a visit to Murgatroyd's en route home. Gaffer will be a loss if he retires, but he’s had a few comebacks over the years, so maybe the last chapter has still to be written. He just got the nod ahead of Paul Machell.

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