Given the current COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in place by the government, I don’t think I am the only one frustrated by the fact we are not allowed to play cricket at the moment.
The statement made by Dominic Raab last week to suggest it is highly unlikely there will be any amateur sport this year wasn’t welcome news for any of us I am sure.
The ‘track and trace’ policy being implemented by Westminster implies that they will only be supporting the participation of sports at a level where they have the ability to test all those playing, and isolate those that are tested positive with the virus (in other words: professional sport only).
However, let’s not be too despondent as this does suggest we will have some live Cricket on our TV’s later this summer! Although I must say, fingers crossed Raab’s suggestion isn’t the view of Boris Johnson and the rest of the government and the current BCL plans of half a cricket season can go ahead.
To provide some interesting reading on the league website in this current period of no cricket, I have decided to delve into the archives on a weekly basis and provide a match report from a forgotten game of years gone by. It will mostly consist of games I have played in so I apologise for that, although I hope it will provide some decent reading for you all non the less.
In this first episode I have delved into the archives of 2013, Cleckheaton’s first ever Division One Championship and the year that Lightcliffe lifted the Priestly Cup.
Looking back over this year obviously has some fond memories for myself, but what a fantastic season it was.
There was only one real rivalry we had during my time at Cleckheaton, this was with Pudsey St Lawrence, at the time I remember there being a bitter hatred with some of the lads, we thought they were ‘gobby’.
Although looking back now that was driven out of frustration at how good a side they were. In complete contrast to us who’d generally employ trial by seam bowlers, with myself, Iain Wardlaw, and the Wood brothers, PSL operated a trial by spin through Chris Marsden, Steve Watts and Tom Hudson. The tussles we had were fierce and unsurprisingly we would generally win one and lose one each year.
The game I have picked is from the 6th July 2013, where Cleckheaton visited Tofts Road sat in second place, a couple of points behind leaders St Lawrence. Neither side had experience of winning a league title and with seven or eight games left in the year, this was worth double points and in my view this game would go a long way to deciding who would lift the league trophy in September.
Unsurprisingly, PSL had prepared a slow dustbowl! Looked like they’d played on that same wicket all season. PSL won the toss and elected to bat first and the sides lined up as follows:
Cleckheaton: John Wood (Capt), Mally Nicholson (WK), Tim Jackson, Ammar Mahmood (OS), Richard Whitehurst, Ian Nicholson, James Lee, Ian Wood, Joe Robinson, Andrew Deegan, Iain Wardlaw.
Pudsey St Lawrence: Mark Robertshaw (Capt), Mathew Duce (WK), Adam Waite, Callum Goldthorp,Jim Smith, Chris Marsden,Steve Watts, Tom Hudson, Jordan Moore, Richard Muzhange (OS), Craig Wiseman.
St Lawrence started positively and only lost the wicket of Mark Robertshaw (8) in the first 10 overs with Adam Waite (51) and Callum Goldthorp (67) built a solid partnership.
Callum Goldthorp on his way to top score of 67 from St Lawrence in the 2013 game. Picture: Mike Baker
Callum was in one of his first 1stXI games at the time and looking back it was great to see a youngster making an impact in a big game; from what I remember we really got stuck into him as well, said some nasty stuff to try get him to make a mistake, and fair play to him, he took it on and played really nicely.
At 97-1 it was looking like we were going to be chasing 230 plus which on a waring wicket would have been a tough ask.
Ammar Mahmood fields off his own bowling during his spell of 5-34 Picture: Mike Baker
After our usual ploy of seam didn’t appear to be working, we called on the ever reliable Andrew Deegan (1-45) and our overseas Ammar Mahmood (5-34).
Ammar was mainly a batsman, he bowled off spin, could turn it big on his day but honestly didn’t bowl that much for us. However, on this day we needed him, the wicket was so slow and was offering a lot of turn, he got Adam Waite to run past one in the 29th over and this was just the opening we needed.
It was really challenging to come in and start against the turning ball and that showed as the PSL batters came and went. Only two more made double figures in Tom Hudson (12) and Richard Muzhange (13*). Credit must also go to Iain Wardlaw who quickly mopped up the tail for us as he did so often, picking up 3-52. In the end they had set us 183 to win, which I felt at the time on a turning pitch in PSL’s back yard would be more than a tricky total.
As expected PSL opened the bowling with the off spin of Chris Marsden, however, I don’t think anybody really anticipated what happened next…
John Wood found the sweet spot on his bat as he blasted a rapid 43 Picture: Ray Spencer
John Wood was a great bowler, never went for any runs in the time I played with him, never saw anyone really get after him. But his batting was unreliable at times, hit the ball as hard as anyone in the game and if he got a ball he could hit he wouldn’t say no .(he was much the same with a petrol station confectionary stand), and this was often his downfall, but when he came off, you generally didn’t lose because he would score very quickly and deal mostly in boundaries.
He tended to come off four or five times a season, fortunately for Cleck, the 6th July 2013 was one of those days. I think PSL will have thought it was turning too much, he would hit one straight up in the air…
Five fours and two sixes later, Woody had propelled us to 71-0 off 15 overs before eventually getting out for 43. I think many will say “oh but he only got 43” or “he got in and got out”, but the more you think about the difference between chasing 180 and chasing 110 on a turning pitch, and the confidence that gave the rest of the guys batting, this was a big knock for us as a team.
Tim Jackson attacks during his fine innings of 84 which was so crucial for Cleckheaton. Picture: Mike Baker
Woody’s knock was the platform for Tim Jackson to play one of many fine knocks he played that season. I don’t think anybody really gives Tim the plaudits he deserves on his ability to play spin. On a turning pitch against one of the best spin attacks of this generation in the BCL,
Jacko swept and cut his way to a magnificent 84, getting out with only a handful needed for victory. Complimented by Ammar Mahmood (43) who was one of the best players of spin I have seen in league cricket, winning by 8 wickets was a fabulous result and a fine day in Cleckheaton CC’s history as it laid the foundation for their first ever BCL first division title.
A Telegraph & Argus cutting from the game shows me appealing for lbw but umpire Phil Taylor was having none of it,
Hopefully you have all enjoyed this trip into the archives and it wasn’t too painful a read. I will try to rotate the teams and years in the next episode so keep your eye out as it could involve anyone I have ever played with or against. If any of you have any requests of games they would like me to feature in an article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org