As Boycott would say, many people can get runs on flat, dry wickets but when it’s damp and seaming around, there’s no substitute for skill and experience.
Helped by the rain, which caused the games between Hallam and Aston Hall and Darfield and Wath to be abandoned without a ball bowled, Whitley Hall, Treeton, Wickersley and Elsecar, as they have done so often, moved up inexorably to the top half of the league.
It must be especially galling for Darfield and Aston Hall who haven’t lost a game yet, but have had five out of eight rained off between them!
Whitley Hall moved to the top, overcoming Conisbrough. The Whitley bowlers took two wickets apiece as Conisbrough struggled to 124 all out (Scott Lowe 45), but the Whitley batsmen found conditions no easier.
At 16-4 the going was certainly tough but they had captain Jim Tasker and overseas Anthony Wilson to bring things round. Wilson left at 61-5 but Tasker kept going, holding things together with 50* as Whitley won by three wickets - a remarkable result in very difficult conditions against a good bowling side, led by Arosh Janoda (4-50).
Steve Foster, at Treeton, is one of the finest club cricketers of his generation.
He took 4-23 in 13 overs to keep Coal Aston to 123, despite a determined innings of 49 from David Rodgers.
Then, after Charlie Roebuck had made 46, he steered Treeton home with 30*. Liam Johnson, another fine player, made 33 and took 3-31 for Coal Aston.
Elsecar overcame Houghton Main in a very similar game, Andy Ivill taking 5-38 as Houghton were bowled out for 122, leaving the experience of Jason Meadows (54*) and Ian Swallow to take Elsecar over the line after they were wobbling on 89-5.
Wickersley, who were blown away by Michael Topp’s Darfield for 55 two weeks ago, must have thought it was all going to happen again as James Stuart (5-25) and Steve Reid (4-44) rolled them over for 78 at Tickhill.
But they too had a stand-out player in Johan Bothma, who made 22 crucial runs with the tail and then out-bowled everyone with 7-40, the best figures of the day, to win the game for Wickersley by 15 runs.
In Division One, batting seems to have been a bit easier but maybe there weren’t the bowlers to exploit the conditions. Andy Tomlinson scored his first ton of the season (110*) as Whiston (209-5) eased past Aston Hall (206-7, Tim Shaw 45).
Barnsley (234-6, Steve Walters 91, Beck Frostick 64) had Rockingham 74-5 in reply, before Robin Singh (65) and Andrew Mellor (50) nearly pulled them round, ending on a creditable 211-7. It was the same at Kexborough, where Rotherham Town 2nds made 196 (Will Cooper 74) and kept the home side to 189, losing three wickets in seven balls when they were in striking distance. George Naylor was 47* at the end after Jack Moran (5-48) had done the damage.
Of the Sheffield sides, only Shiregreen and Norton Oakes played, with Oakes winning by eight wickets.
This weekend, Aston Hall and Darfield will be hoping it doesn’t rain, but their reward is to play Wickersley and Whitley Hall, so perhaps they won’t!
Hallam are at Conisbrough, Tickhill at Elsecar, Coal Aston at Houghton Main and Treeton at Wath as the South Yorkshire league splutters and sparks to get going.
After Saturday’s rain, at least Wath and Darfield managed to get their Whitworth Cup matches in on Sunday.
Darfield beat Houghton Main and Wath lost to Coal Aston (their first win of the season) thanks to a 120 run opening stand by Dave Rodgers (51) and Jonathan Bosch (80) before Bosch and Reece Shutt each took 3 wickets to bowl Wath out for 181, just 25 short.