With the reduction in teams from the old Yorkshire League, this was a Bank Holiday weekend of just one game for each of our teams this weekend, rather than the double (or even triple) header of previous years.
Sheffield and Phoenix United hosted Whitley Hall, welcoming several familiar old faces to the ground that they had graced so notably in the past, while Collegiate hosted Wickersley at Abbeydale
Whitley won the toss and inserted their hosts looking for early breakthrough and a chance for revenge for the cup loss to United a month previously. Old boy Piet Swanepoel, for many years the spearhead of the United attack, obliged his skipper Jim Tasker’s decision by taking three early wickets, including the vital one of skipper Azeem Rafiq, and United stood at 19-3.
Yaqoob Yousuf stood firm with Danial Rafiq in partnership of 44 before a second former United captain, Neil Longhurst, got in on the act. In incisive spell of eight overs, Longhurst picked up 5-19 as the middle and lower order succumbed cheaply. Tasker picked up the younger Rafiq who top scored with 59. Swanepoel finished with 3-21 and the visitors went to tea needing 122 for victory, mindful of recent poor performances with the bat.
Another former Unitedite opened in the form of Matt Milburn, and along with Chris Siddal and Longhurst took the reply to 66-1. Azeem introduced himself into the attack, and the dismissal of Longhurst for 14 saw the demons flood through the away dressing room. Despite the experience of Greig Batty, Liam Heathcote and Swanepoel, the middle order collapsed to 90-8 as Matt Taylor supported his skipper in picking up two victims.
A tense finish was in prospect, but skipper Tasker (13*), batting down at number nine, along with James Ahmed (13*) saw off the United threat and Whitley gained their revenge, winning by two wickets. Rafiq took 4-35 in vain for the home side, who remain in fifth place, while Whitley move up to ninth, above Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham.
At Abbeydale, runs were more forthcoming. Wickersley opted to bat and after a couple of early wickets and the stoic recovery led by Mark Cummins (50), they were indebted to Derbyshire batsman Tom Knight. Knight took on the home attack to post an undefeated 109 from just 96 balls with 10 boundaries and four sixes. Wickersley ended on 218-5; Matt Dixon picking up 2-55. The Collegiate top order had failed to fire in recent weeks and a good start was vital for a successful run chase. Eliot Callis and Dan Priestley returned to form in splendid style with a partnership of 88 for the first wicket before the latter was run out for 26. Billy Root joined in the run scoring, as the score reached 185 before Callis fell for 84, bowled by Vinnie Ogden. Ogden’s belated introduction to the attack caused further late worries in the home side as he picked up three further wickets. Root fell for 58, along with Simon Guy (six) and overseas star Tom Dunn (one) but Michael Simpson ended the contest in characteristic style, his 17* containing two boundaries and a six to seal the win with two overs and five wickets left.
The win left Collegiate in fourth place, Wickersley slipping down to seventh.
Next week Collegiate are off to face table topping Appleby Frodingham, with their 100 per cent record, while United travel briefly down the M1 to Aston Hall.
PLACINGS (after six games): Appleby Frodingham 72; Wakefield Thornes 64; Cleethorpes 52; COLLEGIATE 44; UNITED 34; Treeton 28; Wickersley 28; Aston Hall 28; Whitley Hall 26; Doncaster 20; Barnsley 16; Rotherham 4