Another week, another leader in the Premier Division of the South Yorkshire Senior League.
Whitley Hall, who beat Treeton last weekend to lift the Whitworth Cup for the fifth time in six seasons, completed a fantastic week by beating current champions and last week’s league leaders Elsecar, and moving into the top spot themselves.
Wath, just two points behind, also won to maintain their challenge, but alas poor Treeton and Hallam. There’s a character in one of the Hitchhiker novels who, without being aware of it, is a Rain God and a little dark cloud hovers over him wherever he goes.
This season he’s been taking a close interest in both Treeton and Hallam and on Saturday they played each other. Understandably, Sandygate was the only venue in the South Yorkshire League where not a ball was bowled!
Treeton have now had seven games cancelled and Hallam six in the best of all possible English summers.
Mind you, Whitley Hall won’t be bothered by that. Last year he was more likely to be seen supping a beer at their games!
He was at Whitley on the day they won the Whitworth Cup last year against Hallam, when the game was called off for bad light - with Whitley declared winners on run rate.
Last Sunday there was nothing to darken their spirits. They bowled out the unfortunate Treeton for 199, Jaco Castle taking 5-38 and then blistered to 202-2, with Neil Longhurst scoring 63 and Chris Siddall 88*.
On Saturday they went further and scored 290-9 against Elsecar. This time Longhurst made 76 and Castle 77.
Elsecar, their brief period as league leaders crumbling, tried hard to limit the damage and held on stubbornly at 196-9, Jason Meadows hitting 62 and Jim Tasker taking 5-57.
The significance of the last wicket is that Whitley got five points. Had it fallen, it would have been seven and with the table so tight at the top, that could be crucial.
Coal Aston missed a golden opportunity to pull themselves out of the relegation zone against Aston Hall.
Tim Shaw took 4-6 as Coal Aston were all out for 130 but then Aston Hall collapsed to 51-7 before Matt Shepherd (47) and Kieron Gray (47*) made the recovery of the season to win by two wickets.
Reece Shutt took 5-53 and Liam Johnson 3-34, but it will be small consolation as Coal Aston sit just three points above Norton Oakes.
Wath, after a brilliant start, have thrown the lead away carelessly several times this year.
But there’s a steely resolve about them now and Norton Oakes were just brushed aside on Saturday, managing just 110 all out, with Jack Whitlam taking 4-19 and Rob Barlow 3-12.
John Ledger took two wickets for Oakes, but those were all that fell as Wath, led by Derek Mitchell (39) and Harvey Wootton (32*), cruised to 112-2 and up into second place.
Wickersley, too, know all about throwing leads away, but on some days this year they’ve just obliterated their oppositions.
This week it was Whiston, who are bottom of the table. The result was largely predictable but even they would have hoped to score more than 48 all out.
Andy Tomlinson often scores more than twice that on his own, but not this week.
Lesroy Weekes took 6-14 and Muhammad Naveen 4-28, with five catches behind the stumps for Jordan Lowe as Wickersley duly won in just 7.5 overs.
Darfield and Tickhill played each other twice this weekend - on Saturday in the league and on Sunday in the final of the Mick Savage Trophy.
Maybe Darfield were focusing too hard on the cup - after all, Mick was their former captain in the glory days of the 1980s when they won league titles as though there was no-one else around.
But they were certainly caught dreaming on Saturday and fell for 146 all out, after having been 127-3. Charlie Kaye hit 55 and James Ward added 45, against the onslaught of Steve Reid (6-29).
Tickhill were wide awake in their reply, and Nicky Page (51*) and James Stuart (52*) completed the win clinically with just two wickets lost.
And on Sunday? Well, Tickhill won again but it was a much better game.
Tickhill scored 239, James Stuart top-scoring with 40 and Liam Pepper taking 5-56.
Darfield got to 225-8, with Ali Khan hitting 81 - and had they not conceded 40 wides, and allowed Tickhill’s last two wickets to add 59, it would have been a different story.
In Division One, the top game saw Millhouses Works hold off leaders Conisbrough but they should have had all the points.
Works scored 191-9 after being 116-7 (John Woods 41, Scott Lowe 6-27) but then let Conisbrough hold on from 160-9 to nearly win on 190-9 (James Doran 56). What a finish! Norton Woodseats also won, but with more style, scoring 285-5 (Shahzad Hussain 102*). Aamir Ashfaque made 58, then went on to take 7-41 as Upper Haugh were all out for 180.
Collegiate seconds also played well, scoring 200-3 (Michael Simpson 92*, Jonathan Walmsley 45), though they couldn’t quite bowl out Houghton Main, who finished on 178-6. Shiregreen have tended to bat exceptionally well or exceptionally badly this season. Saturday was one of the better days as they made 279-8 with everyone scoring runs (Zulfiqar Ali the most with 51).
Mind you, Rockingham weren’t far behind, ending on 252-7 (Andrew Mellor 77*).
Hallam seconds had an exceptional performance last week, scoring 344, but this week they scored 217 less, being all out for 127 chasing Kexborough’s 189-8.
Michael Jepps was the star for Kexborough, following 83 with 4-18.
This weekend, the drama continues as four of the top five in the Premier play each other.
Elsecar, who play Norton Oakes, will be hoping to get back on top if Hallam can beat Wath and Treeton can get their revenge for their Whitworth Cup defeat on Whitley Hall. All will be hoping they can spot the little man with the dark cloud hovering - and stop him coming to their match!