Reg Nelson previews the weekend action
For the third successive Saturday the rain affected the balance of matches.
Methley might be bottom of the pile, but their false position will not fool Hanging Heaton who visit Little Church Lane this weekend.
Last week, Yorkshire’s Matthew Waite and Jared Warner could not prevent Methley losing at Bradford & Bingley, while Hanging Heaton lost a Duckworth Lewis Stern 38-over per innings match at Woodlands.
Joint league leaders Woodlands was indebted to their old warhorse Chris Brice last week when he took 5-47 to peg back Hanging Heaton. Form batter Tim Jackson, above, who is the league’s highest aggregate run scorer, laid the foundation for victory with an innings of 52. ,
Woodlands travel to Townville who were frustrated by the heavy rain last week in their clash with New Farnley.
Wrenthorpe are the surprise package in the division so far, and they recorded their second league victory last week to keep on top. Despite being bowled out for 103, they dismissed Farsley for 92 with Khalil Khan (3-20) and Will Bates (3-2) causing the most damage with the ball.
Their task this week will be a tougher proposition as they have a home match with New Farnley who were frustrated by the rain last week when in a good position against Townville. The Lawns Lane side will be extra keen to record their first league win.
Wrenthorpe skipper Jordan Sleightholme is looking forward to the task in hand, he said: “Obviously we have all been looking forward to testing ourselves this season in the Bradford Premier League after achieving promotion. We always knew it was going to be tough playing at the top level. In fact it was made even more difficult after losing our two opening bowlers from last year we built our success on.
“Whilst this was naturally a big loss to the club, it provides opportunities for other people to step up. We think we've got a couple of really good bowlers in new signings Jonathan Donnelly and Oli Kilburn. Hopefully this pair will slot in perfectly to replace Rudgey and Awais.
“Apart from the two new bowlers, we've also done well in bringing in Irfan Amjad from Golcar, who has had previous success in the league, and Will Bates from Harrogate. Both will be hoping to contribute with some big scores and we expect Batesy's off spin to feature heavily.
"With a `like for like’ replacement for last year's overseas Mehran Ibrahim, we have signed Khalil Ullah Khan who has started well, with early season wickets and his first hundred for the club on Sunday in the Heavy Woollen Cup against Elland.
“We prepared for the season with more friendlies than ever, as we played against Whitley Hall, Altofts and Batley which allowed us to get some of the winter rust off and try to settle in for the season. I think this has prepared us well and allowed us to hit the ground running, performing better than many outsiders would ever have expected”.
Wrenthorpe’s great Heavy Woollen tradition has spurred Sleightholme on: “We're obviously really pleased to have got off to a good start by progressing to the quarter-finals of the Heavy Woollen Cup with wins over Farsley and Elland. We are keen to get as far in the cup as possible as this is a competition which Wrenthorpe has a lot of history with”
“Aside from the Heavy Woollen Cup progress, I think the most pleasing thing has been the two league wins over Farsley and Cleckheaton, where we've had to battle to the very end. Taking into account that in some games last year the wins came more easily; we've seen already that we'll have to be at our best to win games this year and recognise it requires a real team effort," Sleightholme said.
Looking ahead to a difficult next few weeks, Sleightholme added: “We know we have a real challenge over the next two weekends as we play three of the top teams in New Farnley, Woodlands and Hanging Heaton. But we believe we have a good squad with lads who will fight for each other all the way and this will hopefully stand us in good stead in these games and across the season. We've got a pretty young side with most lads experiencing their first year playing at this level. Because of this, most of us want to take the opportunity to prove we belong at this level.”
Lightcliffe, who are at home to Farsley, lost a close encounter last week against Cleckheaton when Mark Gill (53no) ran out of partners four runs short of the target.
Farsley lost again despite Yorkshire leg spinner Josh Poysden taking 6-21 on debut. They were favourites when dismissing Wrenthorpe for 103, but their fragile batting could not get them over the line.
Pudsey St Lawrence are handily placed in third position as their decision to introduce youth paid off again. Young leg spinner Archie Scott took 5-44 against Undercliffe to effectively set up his team’s victory march,
This week they welcome Cleckheaton to Tofts Road in what should be an evenly-contested game. Cleck have been unconvincing so far, but scraped a victory last week over Lightcliffe. Left-arm spinner Andrew Deegan was the architect of the win taking 5-64.
Bradford & Bingley will be buoyed by their narrow win against Methley last week, and will doubtless fancy their chances of beating Undercliffe at Wagon Lane. Undercliffe continue to struggle and are desperate for the arrival of their overseas star.
Premier Division Fixtures: Methley v Hanging Heaton, Townville v Woodlands, Wrenthorpe v New Farnley, Lightcliffe v Farsley, Pudsey St Lawrence v Cleckheaton, Bradford & Bingley v Undercliffe.
The big match in Championship One is at Scatcherd Lane where second place Morley take on leaders Keighley.
Newly-promoted Keighley, who recorded their third win in a row to go seven points clear at the top, appear to have a prodigious overseas player in Alex Antoine. He continued his impressive start to the season by taking
3-33 before scoring 60 runs as Keighley overhauled Gomersal’s 146-9.
Morley had to battle hard to beat in-form Bankfoot, but had the bowling strength to prevail with Nathan Bromby (4-33), Matthew Dowse (3-33) and Akash Serenathna (3-22) the men in form.
Dowse’s reputation continues to grow as he tops the league bowlers with 15-wickets.
Batley had to relinquish the top spot last week after being frustrated by the weather when chasing Hartshead Moor’s 141. They travel to Scholes who are still awaiting their first win.
Baildon are now hovering in the chasing pack after a convincing victory over Scholes. It was a sound all round performance with Australian Blair Oakley (46), Mushtaq Ahmed (3-19) and Simon Bailey (3-3) all catching the eye.
They clash with Pudsey Congs who are one place behind them in the table. The Congs were in a very good position last week when reducing Wakefield St Michael’s to 93-7, but ultimately the rain deprived them of further progress towards victory.
East Bierley are now showing some form with new overseas player Ompal Boken impressing. His innings of 71 helped his side along to a final score of 219, and ultimately a 47-run win over Ossett – their first of the season. Bierley will be hoping to continue their good form at struggling Hartshead Moor.
Bankfoot’s encouraging start to the season was halted by promotion hunting Morley in a 4-wickets defeat. They will look to make amends in their away match against an Ossett side that are unexpectedly struggling.
Bottom side Wakefield St Michael’s will be looking for a decent points haul when they play unpredictable Gomersal.
Championship One Fixtures: Wakefield St Michael's v Gomersal, Morley v Keighley, Ossett v Bankfoot, Hartshead Moor v East Bierley, Scholes v Batley, Pudsey Congs v Baildon.
Jer Lane stormed to the top last Saturday, but was overtaken the next day by Yeadon who was playing an extra game.
Yeadon had recorded a tight two-wicket win over Birstall on Saturday, but the next day rocked Hunslet Nelson with a resounding 125-run win. Gareth Lee was the star, striking an unbeaten 108, and following it up with a bowling analysis of 3-6.
Yeadon will be looking to increase their one point lead on Jer Lane, when they face second-bottom Adwalton.
Jer Lane visit a Bowling Old Lane side who are not as yet playing to their full potential. New overseas fast bowler Hazrat Shah (6-67) produced an impressive performance to help Jer Lane secure their third successive win to halt Spen Victoria’s recent charge up the table.
Fourth place Hunslet Nelson were in a good position in their game against Bowling Old Lane before the rain came, and so were this week’s opponents Buttershaw St Paul’s, who were just one wicket away from victory last week.
Hunslet Nelson showed less verve on the Sunday and were soundly beaten by Yeadon. They will be wary of St Paul’s in-form batsman James Crossland who tops the division’s run getters with 185 runs.
Hopton Mills’ charge up the table was negated last week when their game was abandoned against Carlton without a ball being bowled. They have a chance to regain ground when they visit Northowram Fields who narrowly avoided defeat last week.
Carlton’s promotion push will continue against a Spen Victoria side that lost their first match last week. Spen are one point above Carlton in joint fourth and have a match-winner in Bilal Ejaz who scored 85 against Jer Lane’s penetrative attack.
Liversedge are bottom after their latest defeat, but can take heart from a good innings by Sohail (58). Their next opponents this weekend are Altofts who enjoyed their first win beating Adwalton. The stars for Altofts were skipper Kieran Holliday who took 6-45 and Sam Huitema who struck 78 with the bat.
East Ardsley, who play Birstall, had their first win last week against Liversedge. Young prospect Joshua Wild produced a crucial all-round contribution for East Ardsley taking 4-27, and also scoring an entertaining 47. Birstall are still struggling in the league, but were only narrowly defeated by Yeadon.
There is also a Sunday programme of matches in Championship Two.
The top three all have matches against sides in the lower echelon of the league, with leaders Yeadon at home to Altofts, second placed Jer Lane at East Ardsley, and third place Hunslet Nelson at home to bottom side Liversedge.
Twelfth place Birstall are at home to Buttershaw St Paul’s, while Bowling Old Lane will need to beat Northowram Fields to get their promotion bid back on track.
Much fancied Carlton will need to claw back some points on the leaders by beating Adwalton, and Spen Victoria have a very even looking game with Hopton Mills.
Saturday Championship Two Fixtures: Altofts v Liversedge, East Ardsley v Birstall, Bowling Old Lane v Jer Lane, Yeadon v Adwalton, Hunslet Nelson v Buttershaw St Paul’s, Carlton v Spen Victoria, Northowram Fields v Hopton Mills
Sunday Championship Two Fixtures: Yeadon v Altofts, Birstall v Buttershaw St Paul's, Bowling Old Lane v Northowram Fields, Carlton v Adwalton, East Ardsley v Jer Lane, Spen Victoria v Hopton Mills, Hunslet Nelson v Liversedge.
The inclement weather ruined Conference cricket last week with just one winner- Brighouse, who defeated Crossbank Methodists by six runs. This allowed Brighouse to jump from mid-table obscurity into a challenging third place. Brighouse play seventh place East Leeds who were washed out early last week.
Great Preston could have gained some valuable points on runaway leaders Sandal, but were spiked by heavy rain after making 167-4 against them. Openers Danusha Ranasinghe (64) and Kieran Thurston (63) shared a stand of 116 for the first wicket.
They will try again this week when Sandal has a free day and they can play their game in hand. Their opponents are Windhill Daisy Hill who are made of sterner stuff this season. However, Great Preston have the form bowler in Callum James Jordan who has taken 11 league wickets at 4.75 each.
Gildersome & Farnley Hill are in second place and enjoying a much improved season. They looked to be closing in on victory when their weather-affected clash with Windhill & Daisy Hill came to an end. Gildersome’s Adam Campion’s scored 52 in a challenging total of 197-7, and had, Windhill & Daisy Hill tottering at 101-8
Frustratingly, Gildersome endure their second free date and are unable to gain points on Sandal.
Bottom side Heckmondwike & Carlinghow were going reasonably well at 90-3 (Zahid Bukhari 57) when play was washed out at East Leeds. This could put them in good heart for the visit of Rodley who are still looking for their first win.
Oulton have started the season well and are in fourth place with a game in hand on the leaders. They have put together big scores and have Matthew Boucher (179 runs) and Jonathan Henshaw (161 runs) occupying the top two places in the league averages. Oulton go to scenic Crossbank Methodists who are still without a win.
Conference Fixtures: Brighouse v East Leeds, Crossbank Methodists v Oulton, Windhill & Daisy Hill v Great Preston, Heckmondwike & Carlinghow v Rodley, Free: Gildersome & Farnley Hill, Sandal.