|Pudsey St Lawrence opener Mark Robertshaw who reached 1,000 runs for the season
©Mike Baker JCT600 Bradford League
Any thoughts of Pudsey St Lawrence not getting their seven points required to win the title soon evaporated as Adam Waite set his stall out to bat through. He lost his prolific partner Mark Robertshaw early on for six after he reached his 1,000th run with a streaky shot through gully. When Ian Wardlaw had him caught behind at 19-1 it led to cautious batting against an opening attack who was making life difficult in the early overs.
Waite found a partner in Callam Goldthorp (29 runs) who nicely consolidated the situation and took the fire out of the impressive Curtis Free and Wardlaw. When Goldthorp was out to the first ball of Andrew Deegan’s spell it brought in Chris Marsden who batted with confidence from the start. The Saints had weathered the storm of the opening bowlers and make hay against some mediocre change bowling, and at 140-2 were coasting to a big score. However, Wardlaw came back and accounted for Marsden (39), James Smith (0) and Matthew Duce (8).
Earlier news that Woodlands were batting first at Lightcliffe created an assumption amongst the crowd that they would gain maximum points, but at this stage of the match further news suggested that they were struggling with the bat.
As Waite was relentlessly batting on it was obvious from the bulletins from Lightcliffe that seven points was no longer necessary as Woodlands capitulated to 171. The new target for the Saints was to reach 200 and by doing so secure the 4 points that would win the title.
No.7 Tom Hudson supported Waite admirably mixing caution with aggression hitting Wardlaw over square leg for a nicely timed six. The score began to accelerate towards the 200-mark with both batters gaining confidence with every ball. When the critical 200 was reached the Pudsey crowd stood up and applauded what was their first title win in 24 years.
Despite the title hype there was a serious match to be won and Cleckheaton still sniffed victory when Wardlaw dismissed Waite for 76 at 200-6. He had not quite batted through but it was a master class in concentration and skill when early pressure must have taken some effect. He scored eleven 4’s in a 125 ball knock which ostensibly won the day for his team.
The luckless seamer Free trapped Hudson LBW for 27, before tail enders Steve Watts (2*) and Richie Lamb (8*) took the score to 210-7.
Wardlaw was the pick of the Cleckheaton bowlers with 5-55, whilst his partner Free bowled well with little luck to finish with 1-62. Long serving Ian Wood, who was making his final appearance, could not quite find his range finishing with 0-33 off six overs.
There was a celebratory air around the Cleckheaton ground at the tea interval, but it was obvious that both teams still `wanted it’. Cleckheaton got off to the worst possible start losing Andy Gorrod (4) and prolific left hander Tim Jackson (2) to young seamer Josh Wilson. At 19-2 the Saints were determined to ram home their advantage but John Wood found his touch early on hitting Wilson into the club-house for six. Finding support from Ian Nicholson (22) the score mounted to give the home team half a chance of victory.
Wood’s(36) downfall came in an over he hit Wilson for three 4’s before trying one big shot too many. Mally Nicholson joined his brother and briefly looked like Cleckheaton’s saviour before `holing’ out to Waite off spinner Watts for 35.
After an entertaining little cameo from James Lee who hit two sixes in his 23 the tail didn’t wag with only 16 runs being divided between the last four batters in a score of 144 all out.
Josh Wilson, who has a habit of breaking through early, in what is his debut season, took an impressive3-38, while key spinners Marsden (4-33) and Watts (3-23) demolished the rest of the batting.
Pudsey St Lawrence was applauded off by a crowd that had grown remarkably after tea and their supporters could be measured in three figures.
The Saints dethroned the reigning champions on their own ground, but would be presented with the cherished championship trophy later in the evening at Tofts Road. Nobody could begrudge their success in a season when they virtually led the table from start to finish. It was a triumph for skipper James Smith who still plays virtuoso innings, and none more so than in the home match against New Farnley when he confounded the match situation odds.
The Champions had a wobble in the last third of the season, but the Woodlands challenge faded due mainly to suspect early batting.