Woodlands won the Priestley Cup final for the third time in four seasons in a pulsating match today at Undercliffe. It was attritional Bradford League cricket at its very best and it could have gone either way for much of the game.
After sterling work from the Undercliffe ground staff the game commenced at noon as Woodlands won the toss and inserted New Farnley.
Woodlands opening pair Elliot Richardson and Muhammad Bilal bowled with great discipline, and extracted life from the damp pitch. There was a good deal of playing and missing, but New Farnley’s openers Adam Waite and Alex Baldwin at least survived together until the 13th over with the score 32-0.
Chris Brice and Scott Richardson came on to bowl and quickly made an impact with the former taking the wickets of Baldwin (13 runs) and Steve Bullen (0), and the latter dismissing the dangerous Dan Hodgson for one. At 33-3 Woodlands were well on top, and it got even better when Scott Richardson caught and bowled Lee Goddard for five.
Alex Lilley (13 runs) helped to take the score to 74-5 after a brief flurry of shots, but it was obvious it was a case of somebody staying with Adam Waite.
The BCB Sports Live commentators, who were broadcasting a ball by ball commentary, speculated at this point that a score in the region of 150 would be a tester for Woodlands. Certainly at this point, that modest target seemed to be beyond New Farnley.
Richardson dismissed Charlie Parker for three, and at 87-6 Waite was in desperate need for a batsman to stay with him. Tail-ender batsman Max Law proved to be the one to do it.
Waite had gone past 50 before Law was making tentative strokes at the other end. They both saw off the dangerous Brice who concluded with 2-23 from his ten overs, while Richardson also finished his spell with the excellent spell of ten overs for 3-28.
Waite began to open up his range of strokes as Law stubbornly survived to assist him. Bilal was brought back at the pavilion end and it clearly didn’t suit him as Waite hit two remarkable leg side `scoop’ shots for six over the adjoining houses. Law (29no) also got more adventurous, hitting a six for himself as he grew into his role.
It looked at one point that Waite would reach his century, but he had to settle for 97 not out, but more importantly he had taken his side to a very competitive 178-6. The seventh wicket had eked out 91 valuable runs.
The talk in the clubhouse was divided as to whether 178 would be enough, but New Farnley’s late rally was thought to have given them the momentum to go on and win.
As the dark clouds were gathering, Woodlands began their reply and lost Sam Frankland for one. It was clear that Woodlands had to negate the menace of the new ball pairing of Andrew Brewster and Alex Lilley to give themselves a fighting chance.
However, it was first change bowler Charlie Parker who got the next wicket as Tim Jackson fell for eight with score at 27-2 in the thirteenth over.
New Farnley were well on top and Brad Schmulian was scratching about in the crease, and survived a huge appeal for lbw. Greg Finn went for nought and after that Schmulian and Liam Collins crawled along to drinks on 67-3.
There was tension in the air as Dave McCallum lined up to bowl his first over. Collins suddenly unleashed an array of shots which brought 26 runs in the off spinner's first over. He hit three sixes and two fours to take the score to 93-3. In six balls he had taken the tension off the batting side, and the target suddenly became more straightforward. The sequence of scoring in the 26th over was 4, 6, 6, 0, 4, 6.
Given the nature of Collins' batting it was no surprise when he played one shot too many when he holed out to Brewster off McCallum. Collins had played a valuable cameo of 35, and when Cieran Garner quickly followed it was left to Scott Richardson (12 runs) to accompany Schmulian for a while.
New Farnley were still in it when Woodlands were 133-6, but the incoming batter Bilal had other ideas. He dominated a partnership of 48 with Schmulian by striking four fours and twp sixes in an unbeaten 37 to pave the way for his team’s victory.
Schmulian had anchored the innings playing some delightful late cuts in a highly disciplined 68 not out.
Left-armers Lilley (2-26) and Parker (2-28) were the most effective New Farnley bowlers.
The man of the match adjudicator, Bradford Premier League secretary Chris Leathley, gave the award to Adam Waite who’s not out 97 in 139 balls which contained 14 fours and two sixes.
Liam Collins, who hit 26 runs in that game changing over said after the match, “It wasn’t a tactic or anything, I just thought I was getting bogged down, and also thought it would be a good idea to mess up New Farnley’s over rotation."
It had been one of the best Priestley Cup Finals in recent years, and it was good to see the grounf fill up late in the day.
For Woodlands, their next task is to clinch the league title to achieve their first cup and league double since 2006 when they also won the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy. It also proves there is life after Sarfraz Ahmed who for a long time was one of their major influences, particularly in their glory years.
For New Farnley, one of the most progressive clubs in the league, they will dust themselves down and doubtless continue to go for the big prizes for years to come.