Former Saltaire, Yeadon and Hanging Heaton player Steve Bartle is the focus of Reg Nelson's latest feature on the Bradford League's best all-rounders.
Steve Bartle was an immense talent, but his Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy in 1994 was won in an extraordinary manner.
His batting that year for Yeadon was exceptional, scoring 1,010 runs in the First Division with a top score of 113, leading to an average of 56.11.
However, he just bowled 112 overs and scraped into the league averages with 30 wickets at an average of 11.33. The qualification was 30 wickets, so one less wicket and he would not have been in, and quite conceivably not considered for the All-rounders trophy.
One can speculate that the very fact he did make the averages with an impressive 11.33 per wicket which, took him to the top of the averages, sealed his award.
The failure to take that 30th wicket would have given the Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy to Chris Gott who had a more substantial season with 978 runs at 46.37 and took 49 wickets.
Another extraordinary fact about Bartle’s feat was that it was the only time he ever qualified for the league bowling averages. This was no reflection on his abilities as a seam and swing bowler; more about his physical problems that negated his opportunities to bowl.
Bartle started at Saltaire in the eighties and in his mid-teens was equally adept with bat or ball. He stated to make an impression with the ball as a 13-year-old in Saltaire’s Second Team.
He developed quickly, but parental guidance often frustrated the Saltaire skipper Mick Scott who could not always call on him to play.
When he was 18 it was clear that his batting was his preference, and he opened with great success, partnering the club’s flamboyant West Indian Wayne Lewis. That season they won the league’s Highest Opening Partnership accolade with 204 runs.
Saltaire 1988: Back, (left) S Smith (scorer), J Driver, P Clarke, W Lewis, B Shackleton, D Wood, S Bartle. Front A Gilgrass, K Woodhead, G Cowgill, R Hodson, S Gill.
Saltaire’s 1988 side took some big scalps in the First Division with other players of the calibre of Antony Gillgrass, Keith Woodhead, Robert Hodson and Simon Gill.
Bartle played a lot of representative cricket before being picked up by Yorkshire. When he was on the county’s books the coaches tried to turn him into a fast bowler when in effect, he was a natural medium pacer who moved it both ways. Although he was of considerable height, he was not physically strong enough to withstand bowling genuinely quick, and later he would suffer injuries.
Ironically, the coaches made no attempt to try him as a specialist batsman which was his real forte. He drifted away to Leicestershire where he played one First Class match in 1995 against Oxford University.
Bartle left Saltaire to join a Yeadon team that were on the up. Not only had their signed his former Saltaire colleague Robert Hodson, but they also managed to lure Sean Atkinson, Peter Graham and Bruce Percy to Yeadon High Street.
Yeadon were not title contenders, but they were a formidable force and finished in an impressive fifth position in 1994. They also reached the Priestley Cup Final but posted an under par 190-6 which the emerging Pudsey Congs side knocked off by eight wickets with few alarms.
Bartle proved himself to be a key figure in Yeadon’s change of fortunes with a run of impressive run aggregates of 682, 744 and 653, but saved the best for 1994 when he won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.
When he departed for Hanging Heaton in 1997, he had full concentration on his batting, and his bowling was very much in the past despite being only 26 years of age.
That year, for the second time in his career, he figured in the league’s Highest Opening Partnership - this time with Paul Spragg after they had scored 189 runs for the first wicket.
Hanging Heaton 1998 - Back: Alan Mynett, Suleman Hudda, John Carruthers, Rob Winter, Steve Bartle, Gary Scargill. Front: Dave Lawrence, Steve Bourne, Simon Purdy, Javid Umarji, Adrian Knight.
Hanging Heaton 2002: Back - A Bhoite, S Bartle, N Khan, J Carruthers, J Virr (Scorer) J Umarji. Front: I Dawood, A Mynett, M Inwood, S Foster, N Summerscales, S Purdy.
He would later form a formidable opening partnership with Steve Foster and went on to win every club trophy open to him, except the Priestley Cup that remained elusive to him.
He was part of the Hanging Heaton side of 2000 that won the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy and Heavy Woollen Cup, a year after winning the league title in 1999.
The team that year was Stephen Foster, Stephen Bartle, Paul Marlow, Stephen Bourne, Rob Winter, Alan Mynett, Javed Umarji, Mark Inwood, John Carruthers, Simon Purdy, Elliot Noble.
For a cricketer of such abilities, he never had a love affair with the game and retired at the youthful age of 32 in 2002.
It could be said that his best days were at Hanging Heaton, where he recorded seasonal run-tallies of 725, 819, 697, 517 and 650 in the league, with his best average set at 54.60 in 1998.
He might not have quite fulfilled his all-round potential in his career, but at least he is in the elite band of cricketers who have won the ultimate individual award in local cricket - the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy.