Gordon Rigg Premier Division Cup Final: Pudsey St Lawrence v Townville at Tofts Road
Pudsey St Lawrence have skilfully combined a `development’ season with the usual competitiveness drive for success.
All-Rounder Archie Scott is now developing into the finished article, and the likes of Josh Priestley, Harry Cullingford, Josh Dracup and Jude Roberts will benefit enormously from the opportunities they have been afforded in this shortened season.
In the batting, Mark Robertshaw remains the player to build their innings, while Charlie Best, skipper Chris Marsden, Barrie Frankland and James Smith are the ones to add the acceleration. The latter’s whirlwind innings against New Farnley three weeks ago illustrates what a match-winner he can still be.
Then there is the effervescent all-rounder Charlie Parker who can make things happen with either bat or ball when aroused.
The key player is Marsden, who as captain has turned his young team into an extremely lively fielding side and cajoled them into taking the `half-chances in the field. He remains the `go to’ bowler who can stem the tide of runs and make the vital breakthroughs.
He has also taken on more responsibility with the bat this year, and can be a force to be reckoned with if he can play himself in.
Loan signing Luke Heineman was brought in at the start of the season when Best had an injury problem, and he has done everything asked of him. His superb catch in the defeat of New Farnley three weeks ago was a defining moment in the match.
It was clear on social media how keen Townville were to get going this season and this is reflected by having players available to play every week.
This was evident in their first match when they successfully chased Hanging Heaton’s 271-5. Jonathan Booth’s unbeaten 143 will live in Townville’s folklore and the memory of the spectators that witnessed the innings.
The fact that they later completed a double over such highly rated opponents illustrates that they have set their stall out for success in this abridged season.
Conor Harvey has again showed how dangerous he can be with the bat, to say nothing of his economical seam bowling, while Jack Hughes still takes wickets in clusters.
The traditional strength in depth of Townville’s side in many people’s eyes is the trio of Booth, Harvey, and Hughes, but Harry Warwick and Harry Clewett are now growing in influence.
The loan signing of Mohammed Bilal has also brought a better balance to the side, and has added a potential match-winning element with both bat and ball.
In addition, there is the experience of new signing Ishy Dawood who might yet be a deciding factor.
Liam Booth has impressed again as wicketkeeper and can count himself as one of the leading keepers in the league.
This clash is too close to call, but Townville’s greater maturity could well allow them to prevail on the day.
Jonathan Booth is a key man at the top of the order for Townville. Picture: Ray Spencer
Gordon Rigg Division One Cup Final: Birstall v Pudsey Congs at Leeds Road
Birstall captainb Nick Kaye will be hoping to lead his side to victory Picture: Ray Spencer
Birstall might have had their customary slow start to the season but crushing defeats of East Bierley and Ossett have propelled them into the Division One Cup Final.
They bat deep with fast scorers in the middle order after openers Josh Haynes and Eric Austin have laid a firm foundation. Nick Kaye, Bradley Silverwood, Graeme Winn and Benedict Gundry can all play major innings at a high run-rate.
Haynes could also play a key role as a spinner by bowling those critical overs in mid-innings.
Pudsey Congs captain Richard Jubb has worked wonders with his young side. He has instilled a team ethic that has shone through this season with no individual stars to speak of. They have all `mucked in’ to the team’s cause and will not be overawed by the bigger stars in Birstall’s line-up.
The bowling is more potent than the batting with the spin bowlers Ryan Heptinstall and Sam Wisniewski catching the eye, and Vinit Patel the most effective seamer.
The best of the batting has been provided by Rishi Chopra and Subhaan Ammar.
Joshua Bennett has taken the eye as a wicketkeeping star of the future, and he will be hoping his batting fires this weekend.
Birstall will undoubtedly start as favourites with their extra experience, but the key to this match could well be how well the Congs spin department performs.
Gordon Rigg Division Two Cup Final: Jer Lane v Sandal at Jer Lane
Zeeshan Qasim has been a shrewd loan signing for Jer Lane Picture: Ray Spencer
Jer Lane have been the most dominant side in the entire league set-up this season. They have strength in depth, and can grind out a result out even when not playing well.
Opener Farakh Hussain goes for the bowling from ball one, and if it is his day, can take the game away from the opposition. Sandal must find a way to subdue him, and ultimately dismiss him; otherwise they will be in trouble,
Jer Lane made two very wise loan signings in Kez Ahmed (Woodlands) and Zeeshan Qasim (Undercliffe). Ahmed, who is a specialist off-spinner, has been a revelation with the bat, while Qasim has taken important wickets with the new ball.
However, seamer Mohammed Jamal has been the leading wicket-taker, and the one that has made the most inroads into the opposition’s early batting.
Sandal also has strength in depth and dominated in the East Section of Division Two.
Matthew Westwood, Danny Riley and Sam Scott were amongst the leading run-getters in the whole of Division Two, while they also have considerable bowling strength in Juned Delair, Zaeem Zulfqar and Brandon Hewitt.
They had won every match in group and T20 cricket until last week when they unexpectedly fell in the latter final to Northowram Fields.
This could drive them on even more determinedly to prevail on the day.
Gordon Rigg Division Three Cup Final: Altofts v Rodley at Welfare Grounds, Lock Lane
It could be said that Altofts are big favourites to win this one. They have comfortably defeated Rodley twice this season in inter-divisional matches and also have a vastly superior group record.
Altofts have won eight out of eight matches, while Rodley’s record is four wins, and four losses.
However, Altofts will be aware that cricket does not always work like that, and they will be taking no chances against a team that has every incentive to upset the odds.
Altofts have powerful batting in Harry Wilkinson, Ben Walsh, and Joe Elam, while Joshua Hen-Boisen, Danny Eden, Elliott Carter, and Dominic Richards have taken good care of the bowling.
Hen-Boisen has finished an impressive second in the Division Three Averages with 19 wickets at 12.68.
Rodley’s best run-getters tended to be their most prolific wicket-takers in all-rounders Bailey Wilson, Gary Sagar and Luke Cosford.
Whether Rodley prevail or not their chairman Steve Bradbury has already pointed out the progress they have made on the field.
He said: “Our development plans include a steady improvement in our league positions, and I believe that we have finished higher in every subsequent season that we have had in The Gordon Rigg Bradford Premier League. Should the east and west divisions be merged then 2020 would have continued that trend”.