Future is bright for local teams!

Matthew Cartwright of Aston Hall leaves the field after being caught out
Matthew Cartwright of Aston Hall leaves the field after being caught out
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There were no results from Saturday in the top two divisions, although there was a surprising amount of cricket played.

But the key match on a sunny Sunday, at Hanging Heaton (sounds like a Western shoot-out), was the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy Final between York - champions of the Yorkshire League for the past seven seasons - and Elsecar, South Yorkshire League champions.

To get to the final, Elsecar had beaten the winners of the York & District League and the Central Yorkshire League; York had beaten the top side in the Huddersfield and Bradford Leagues.

York batted first and were reduced to 34-5 by Iftikhar Afzal (3-17) and Andrew Ivill (2-23). Liam McKendry (54) and the tail battled them back to 137-7, only to have their life finally snuffed out by a Glenn Yates hat-trick.

Yates took 4-32 - but perhaps the most surprising bowling feature was that Shahzad Rana didn’t get a wicket at all (though he only conceded 18 runs in seven overs, and took an impressive catch).

Elsecar lost Jason Meadows without scoring, but then, as he has done so often this season, Ainsley Swallow led the attack from the front, scoring eleven fours and two sixes in his 69, in a partnership of 101 with Brett Hunsley (25*) as Elsecar demolished the Yorkshire League champions by eight wickets, with 15 overs to spare.

South Yorkshire League teams have now won the Yorkshire Championship three times in the last four years (Whitley Hall won it in 2011 and 2012).

Earlier in the season, South Yorkshire League sides Wickersley, Treeton and Elsecar comfortably beat three Yorkshire League sides - Rotherham Town, Sheffield Collegiate and Cleethorpes - in the National Knockout.

And three weeks ago, Hallam beat Sheffield Collegiate in the National T20 Regional final.

It is time for reflection on the relative strengths of local leagues. The National Player Survey has shown that players are unhappy travelling long distances to play Saturday afternoon cricket.

The YCB and county club are looking at the monolithic structure of Yorkshire club cricket, with over 700 clubs and just the one ECB Premier League, which has no promotion or relegation, and includes clubs as distant as Harrogate and Cleethorpes (in Yorkshire?), Scarborough and Barnsley.

They will shortly be recommending a new structure, which hopefully meets the aspirations for progression within the county. Clearly areas as historically strong as the Bradfield League and, currently, the South Yorkshire League will be hoping for some recognition of the quality of the cricket played amongst their clubs - and the training ground they provide for the Yorkshire youngsters of the future.

Saturday, meanwhile, was wet! You had to go to Baslow or beyond to stand any chance of a completed game, but many tried their utmost to sqeeze one in.

The rain god that has become a supporter of Treeton this year, turned up for the eighth time to one of their games, unfurled his umbrella and watched the match against Aston Hall.

Aston batted, or tried to, but found keeping Greg Norton out of their stumps rather a trial.

He had four victims bowled and one lbw in his 5-28, as they slid to 109 all out in 33 overs.

Treeton set about trying to win but lost Gareth Davis and Stephen Foster for single figures and were just accelerating again, with Scott Cunningham 36*, when the rains returned after 12 overs, leaving them tantalisingly close on 62-2.

Three points behind, Whitley Hall and Elsecar desperately tried to force wins.

Elsecar’s attempt nearly blew up in their face. After 10 overs, Swallow (64), Meadows (40) and Yates (21) had taken them to 132-1. Then reality set in - they were, after all, playing Wickersley.

Shahid Hussain took 6-48 and Elsecar were all out for 153. But there were only another two overs possible, so it didn’t matter in the end.

Whitley, at least, managed to sustain their innings against Whiston and got 213-4 (Jaco Castle hit seven fours and three sixes in his 70*, Neil Longhurst 40, Chris Siddall and Alex Fletcher 30s) in 30 overs, declared!

And the opposition? They did not bat. Sadly for Whitley they couldn’t borrow their batting form for the next day in the Yorkshire Council final against Townville, the Central League champions.

They were all out for 167, with no-one scoring more than Matthew Milburn’s 29, and then couldn’t quite contain Townville, who won by four wickets with an over to spare - the first time in five years that a South Yorkshire League club has not won this competition.

The team to feel most sorry for (unless you come from Coal Aston, of course) is Norton Oakes.

They need one win to overtake their rivals and avoid the drop. All of their last three games have been rained off. On Saturday they made their highest score of the season, of 245-9 (Alex Hughes 55, Alex Hibbert 48) - to the great excitement of a little chap with an umbrella who’d just come across from Treeton to watch - and they only managed two overs against Tickhill.

So they’re still for the chop.

Mind you, this weekend they’re playing Whiston and Coal Aston are playing Elsecar, so it could still end happily for them.

Just as likely, though, is Whiston winning and leap-frogging both of them, to keep Andy Tomlinson in the Premier.

No-one else played and, amongst the local teams in division One, only Shiregreen made a start, getting to 147-7 (Mehfooz Khan 44) in 28.5 overs against Barnsley, the decimal point indicating the suddenness of the game’s end.

So, it’s all down to the last match.

Treeton are playing Darfield and will be champions (for the eighth time) if they win. Whitley Hall merely have to beat Wickersley and Elsecar must prevail against Coal Aston to stand a chance.

In Division One, Hallam’s only hope is that they can beat Shiregreen, Norton Woodseats can beat Barnsley and Conisbrough can beat Wath.

Sounds like a reasonable triple.

Any bets, anyone?