After six successive Bradford League Heavy Woollen Cup wins, there is a real threat that this dominance might end this year in the shape of Shepley who reached the final by beating Barnsley Woolley Miners in the semi-finals.
However, a Bradford League side will be guaranteed at least a final berth after Buttershaw St Paul’s were drawn at home to twice finalists Townville.
Buttershaw St Paul’s v Townville
Buttershaw St Paul’s had an unlikely and bizarre elevation to the semi-final, reaching this stage without completing a full match.
They had a bye to the second round, before progressing further when their third round opponents Spen Victoria forfeited the tie. At last they took part in a game at Wrenthorpe in the Quarter-Finals before the wretched weather led to a `bowl-out’ which they duly one. It has surely not happened before in the tournament- a sequence of a bye, forfeiture and bowl out to progress.
However, St Paul’s are blameless in all this and take their rightful place in the Heavy Woollen Cup Semi-Final.
They certainly batted away against Wrenthorpe and were by no means out of it when the rain brought a dramatic halt to proceedings.St Paul's got off to a g ood start with openers Jonathan Burston (60 runs) and Kevin McDermott (29 runs) sharing a 91-run partnership. Their colleagues could not quite take advantage of this start, and ended with a slightly under-par 186-8 in their allotted 50 overs.
Wrenthorpe were 59-2 after 13 overs when the rain came, and probably regarded themselves as slight favourites. The game was halted two overs short of the position a comparison of scores could be used. St Paul's were unable to play again before the date of the next round so it was decided to have a bowl out which they won 3-1.
Townville had a more conventional run to the semi-final, beating some good sides on the way. They were the beneficiaries of a bye to the Second Round where they soundly beat Yorkshire Premier League South side Whitley Hall.
Townville batted first and set a challenging score of 207-6 after Naveed Sayeed (46no), Kris Ward (40) and Harry Warwick (30) had all contributed well.
Skipper Jack Hughes took 5-29 to send Whitley Hall spinning to a 108-run defeat after they fell for 99.
In the Quarter-Finals Townville defeated Drakes Huddersfield League side Barkisland who were surprise conquerors of highly-fancied Hoylandswaine in the previous round by six wickets.
Barkisland batted first and their innings was dominated by a fourth-wicket alliance of 90 between top scorer Sachin Jayewardene (81 runs) and Jake Finch (41 runs). Conor Harvey (3-51) was Townville’s most-successful bowler, taking the crucial wicket of Jayewardene and keeping Barkisland at something like manageable at
Spin bowler Harry Clewett, also put a check on the batting with an economical ten over spell of 1-33.
In reply Townville had to battle, but in the end timed their chase to perfection passing the Barkisland total with one over to spare.
Opener Jonathan Booth anchored the innings, despite an early facial injury, finishing unbeaten on 99. Booth hit a six and 11 fours and was joined in a second-wicket stand of 70 by Harry Warwick (34) before adding 95 for the third wicket with Imran Rafique (40).
Townville were great cup fighters in their Central Yorkshire League days, but this cup has eluded them. In 2012 they reached the final at Liversedge before going down to Wrenthorpe by 61-runs. Two years later in 2014 they again reached the final at Spen Victoria and lost by five wickets to Pudsey Congs.
Townville have a great team ethic and don’t have a `star player’ mentality about any of their players. However, they have a trio of players in Jonathan Booth, Jack Hughes and Conor Harvey who tend to thrive on the big stage.
Harvey is one of the leading opening bowlers in the league and would be sought after by a host of clubs if he decided to leave. But, in some ways, his explosive batting down the order, when it’s his day, can be equally effective as his bowling. He has the ability to take the game away from the opposition.
He acknowledges that things have not gone great in the league for his side, but he’s looking forward to the opportunity to make a major final. “It’s been a tough time for us of late. Despite sitting near the bottom of the table, and playing well in parts, we’ve struggled getting over the line in big games. We haven’t had the rub of the green in the league with the weather, and other situations haven’t worked in our favour," he said.
Harvey takes heart from his team’s displays in the Heavy Woollen Cup, “Our Heavy Woollen Cup cricket has been very promising, and we’ve managed to put everything together to get where we are.," he said.
"This year we thought our batting would be our strength, but that’s not quite gone to plan. Our main stay has been Jonny Booth who has scored consistent runs in the league and cup, coupled with some good cameos from everyone else in the order. However, our bowling is promising and we’ve got a mixture of everything and I think that’s why it’s working for us in the cup.
“We’ve beaten Barkisland and Whitley Hall who are two good teams who’ve beaten strong sides in previous rounds. It’s great to be in a semi final and that is really massive for us. This is the cup we want to win- we’ve been close so many times before, losing finalists twice before and losing semi finalists at least two to three times in the last 6/7 years.
“We feel it’s a great opportunity for us to really stake a claim for it this year. All the pressure is on us in this semi-final and we know that, but we have the team and squad to make this our year, Buttershaw are unknown to us, so we won’t be taking them lightly. It’s business as usual for us at Townville, and we will be doing all we can to reach another final."
Harvey says this cup as very special to his club, “We haven’t got over the line in recent years, but this cup is pretty special at Poplar Avenue, and this is the one we want to win. We can’t wait for this challenge and all the lads are up for it and recent disappointments in previous years are spurring us on."
The Buttershaw St Paul’s Cricket Secretary Paul Robinson is looking forward to the big day. He said:, “The club are looking forward to one of the biggest days in the clubs history, namely the semi final of the historic Heavy Woollen cup. We extend a warm welcome to our opponents Townville and their supporters, and look forward to a good competitive game of cricket .Hoping that the weather smiles on us on Sunday."
Shepley Awaits the Winners
Whoever gets through to the final will play Drakes Huddersfield Premier League club Shepley who has beaten some good teams to get there.
They have beaten Scholes (Drakes Huddersfield League), South Yorkshire Premier League outfit Wickersley Old Village, and Barnsley Woolley Miners in the semi-finals.
Shepley, who won the competition in 2011, owed much to an opening stand of 111 between Danny Wood (57) and Tom Chadwick (47) as they made 201 batting first against Barnsley.
It was unclear whether this was a slightly under par score, but Barnsley struggled for momentum and with Danny Glover taking 3-31 they were bowled out for 153.
Final at Ossett on Sunday, August 4.
Shepley v Townville or Buttershaw St Paul’s
Preview: Reg Nelson Picture: Ray Spencer