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Suleman Khan was Lightcliffe's star turn

Suleman Khan was  Lightcliffe's star turn

In the last of Reg Nelson’s features on Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy winners he looks at the career of the overseas all-rounder Suleman Khan.

Suleman Khan is one of a select band who have won the award on more than one occasion. Not only that, he also won the Jack Hill All Rounders Trophy for the lower divisions.

As a right handed batsman and slow left arm orthodox spin bowler, he played first class cricket in Pakistan, mainly for Lahore based sides from 2002 to 2013.

He joined Great Horton in 2008 at the age of 25, and had a `middling’ season in the second division, scoring 522 runs and taking 31 wickets.

It wasn’t until he returned to Ewart Street in 2011, after a two-year absence, that he really lit up the Bradford League.

He scored 1,208 runs at 54.91, with a top score of 153, to finish second in the league batting averages. In addition he took 62 wickets at 14.23 to clinch the Jack Hill All Rounders Trophy for his efforts.

His feats of 2011 led to a contract with Lightcliffe who had gained promotion to the top flight for season 2012.

Suleman Khan's left arm spin was an effective weapon for Lightcliffe

Incredibly, Lightcliffe very nearly won the title when on the last day, rivals Woodlands appeared to be heading for defeat against Bradford & Bingley. The fact that they ended up winning was a bitter pill to swallow for Lightcliffe who were so close to clinching the title.

In a season when Chris Taylor, Alex Lees, Alex Stead and Jonathan Wilson scored heavily, Khan’s batting was not a significant factor. However, he was the key bowler with 48 wickets at 17.27.

If 2012 had a bittersweet ending, 2013 fulfilled all Lightcliffe’s new ambitions in these renaissance years.

Lightcliffe's Priestley Cup winning side. Back: Moin Ashraf, David Hester, Josh Wheatley, Ollie Robinson, Jonathan Wilson, Mahmood Rasool, Suleman Khan. Front: Mark Horne, Alex Stead, Chris Taylor, Charlie Roebuck, Danyaal Ahmed, Jack Booth (Scorer)

They won the Priestley Cup, beating Hanging Heaton in the final at Farsley. Overnight rainMark Horne, Alex Stead, made batting difficult for Hanging Heaton, but they revived somewhat after a brave innings from James Stansfield who scored 88.

Khan played a vital role taking 2-35 off his ten overs, and helped to ensure Hanging Heaton would not reach the psychological 200-mark.

He also had a very solid season in the league scoring 444 runs at 37.00, and took 51 wickets at 16.35 with a season’s best of 7-26.

Lightcliffe were no longer title challengers in 2013, and slipped further down the league table in 2014.

Ironically, it was the beginning of the club’s decline when Khan won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy on two successive seasons.

In 2014, Khan scored 715 runs at 42.06 with a top score of 128, while he proved to be the most penetrating bowler with 40 wickets at 16.10 to clinch the best all rounder trophy. 

Lightcliffe had a flirtation with relegation for much of the 2015 season, but strong campaigns by Alex Stead, and Khan himself, rectified the situation.

Khan's form earned him seclection for the JCT600 Bradford League side that took on Yorkshire at Pudsey Congs, a match remembered for a stunning century from Jonny Bairstow and Khan lofting England spinner Adil rashid for a big six.

The moment when Suleman Khan smashed Adil Rashid for six

The JCT600 Bradford League side that faced Yorkshire in 2015

Khan, who scored 736 runs at 40.89 and also took 33 wickets, retained the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy. This was a great achievement and had only been done previously by Ali Zia and Ian Austin.

Khan helped his side to reach the final of the Priestley Cup where they were defeated by Bradford & Bingley at Wagon Lane.

Lightcliffe struggled to keep their top flight status in subsequent seasons and succumbed to relegation in 2019.

However, Khan never let his standards drop, and he always gave them a chance to win a match.

2016- 592 runs, 36 wickets.
2018- 551 runs, 46 wickets
2019- 517 runs, 44 wickets

He dug in with both bat and ball- often explosive stroke-play to turn a game, and always canny left arm spin to control the scoring or break up a difficult partnership. As a first class cricketer his batting was infinitely better and more highly regarded than his bowling.

First Class Record
Batting  54 innings  1,383 runs   Highest Score 129  Average 28.81
12  Wickets, Average 63.91  Best Bowling 2-32

Not only did he show overseas class in the Bradford League, he also had that dogged determination that historically the best players showed in the league.

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