Crossflatts’ captain Dominic Bennett is excited about the challenges of competing in Division Two of the Gordon Rigg Bradford Premier League next year.
He said: “On the whole we have all enjoyed our first season in the Bradford Premier League. We have loved the experience of going to new grounds, and we have enjoyed welcoming new clubs to our ground. We feel we have been welcomed at these clubs.
“We are excited about the prospect of competing in a higher standard, and our aim is to consolidate and finish as high as possible up the table. We played Bowling Old Lane last season in the quarter-final of the Jack Hampshire Cup and it was an eye opener for us.
“But we won’t be daunted, and hope to rise to the challenge. The idea of going to some of these bigger clubs, like Lightcliffe who have come down, is quite a thrill really”
“Our aim at the start of the 2021 season was promotion, but we didn’t expect it, although I think we got what we deserved”, said Dominic.
The captain should be commended for taking Crossflatts to the title in their first season because he had a very heavy work load. He had to skipper the side with the extra burden of keeping wicket, and in the process he claimed 30 victims that took him to second in the league keepers’ chart. He also found time to score 395 runs at 28.21 with an impressive top score of 144.
As a clubman he also has a time consuming role in helping to bring along the club’s juniors. He explains. “We are introducing another junior side next season, and with the ladies side as well, we have our hands full. However, we are proud of what we are doing, and delighted we can blood young cricketers in our Halifax League Sunday side. These matches are very well attended."
Outside the club, it is the successful promotion push that neutrals will be talking about, and this is how it all went.
The Promotion Push
Crossflatts made an inauspicious start, losing to Crossbank Methodists in the first fixture by 24 runs in a low-scoring affair.
However, they then went on a long winning run between the sundry abandonments, and significantly beat the early pacesetters Brighouse by 54 runs. This was the match when they could truly say they had arrived at the top table in the division.
Crossflatts batted first and made 230 thanks in part to top scorer Nathan Bradbury who made 55. Brighouse could only manage 176 in reply, and the top of the table was now wide open.
A dodgy spell at the beginning of August saw them lose two on the trot. They were beaten by East Leeds to the tune of 41 runs - a team they had defeated back in May by 201 runs. Perhaps more crucially they lost to Great Preston who were then given real impetus in the promotion race.
Great Preston scored 355-6, and although Crossflatts made an admirable effort in getting to 257-8, they lost by 78 runs.
It was now a three-horse race between Great Preston, Crossflatts and Brighouse, and in the penultimate match against Liversedge the season seemed to be turning sour for them.
Although Liversedge only posted 148 after Charlotte Boulton had taken 4-35, Crossflatts were fighting for their lives on 137-9. The season could turn one way or the other in the next few balls.
Happily for Crossflatts, No.10 batsman Mayank Singh kept his nerve to scramble the 12 runs needed to finish with an unbeaten 16.
The situation at the top going into the last fixtures was Great Preston (306pts), Crossflatts (299) and Brighouse (286). Intriguingly Crossflatts had to visit Great Preston in what realistically was a winner takes all match.
Crossflatts took a coach load of spectators to Great Preston and won in commanding style against a very good side.
Great Preston batted first and posted a score of 189-7 which looked testing for Crossflatts.
However, the batting side of Crossflatts kept their nerve and won in comfort by seven wickets.
Haris Hussain made an invaluable 62 before Joe Greenwood (68no) and Nathan Bradbury (35no) shared an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 96 which secured victory and the championship.
Dominic admitted a restless week building up to the match. He said: “As captain I went through countless dilemmas like winning/losing the toss and other thoughts. But, we went with a strong side and we played very well. Great Preston looked after us great with food and stuff and we had some drinks afterwards.” .
The players who made it happen
Josh Brooksbank, above, and Mayank Singh, below, played key roles for Crossflatts at key times
Joe Greenwood and Josh Brooksbank were the major batsmen, with Mohammad Shahnawaz often coming to the rescue in middle order.
Greenwood finished third in the league batting averages with 585 runs at 39, while Brooksbank contributed 467 runs at 33.36.
Interestingly, Greenwood took eleven outfield catches during the league campaign,
Wasim Hussain picked up 36 wickets at 14.89 and had the habit of taking the wicket of the key early batsman.However, it was Mohammad Shahnawaz who probably stole the show.
He was the `go to’ cricketer in a crisis, taking the difficult wicket, and also regularly scoring the vitalruns down the order. His league record was 48 wickets at 16.75 with a best return of 7-31, and he also scored 522 runs at 37.29.
Despite Shahnawaz’s mighty efforts, there were other crucial performers that should not go unnoticed. Harris Hussain scored 300 runs and Nathan Bradbury 276, while Alex Bradbury took 27 vital wickets.
Joe Hicks proved to be a strong anchor of the batting, making three half-centuries in his 289 runs, and could also be relied upon to take the odd wicket with his occasional off-spinners.
Joe Hicks chipped in with important contributions to his side's success Picture: Ray Spencer
The side topped 300 twice with 315 in an emphatic victory against Adwalton, and 303-8 in a thriller against Liversedge who fell just twe12 runs short. Bennett hit a season’s best of 144 not out in the latter match.
The final word
Dominic has a clear idea of the challenges that lie ahead. He said: “Generally we are going to keep faith with the players that have got us promoted. We are talking to a possible overseas player, and we could get a couple of new ones in. Any strengthening would help the second team, and we do want them to challenge next season.
“They didn’t do too well this season, mainly because of first team calls, injuries and holidays. But, those that stepped up like Mick Bailey Steve Broughton and Charlotte Boulton did a great job.
“In the future we have plans for a new practice facility off the field to accommodate the growing cricket usage. We also need to upgrade our clubhouse”.
“I repeat that we are excited about next season, especially after the success this year”.
Crossflatts are continuing to improve facilities at Ryshworth Park Picture: Ray Spencer
An abridged version of this will be included in Crossflatts history.