After Saturday, there’s a bit of daylight separating the top three teams in the South Yorkshire Championship from the rest, but it would be a brave man who would predict who will be in contention at the end, let alone who will get promoted to the Premier next season.
So many teams have the capacity to overturn form.
Tickhill came back from their week off to put in a storming performance against Elsecar who had been quietly moving up the table. Former Coal Aston colleagues Liam Johnson (72) and Laurence Browes (44) put on 83 for the second wicket and James Doyle followed up with 52 to take Tickhill to an impressive 255-7 by the close. This was much too much for Elsecar who have been winning games by rolling out their opposition cheaply and knocking off the runs for one or two down. Their full batting has yet to fire this season and so it was on Saturday. Ian Swallow made 39 and Tanzeel Ali 34 but there was little else to trouble Alex Rowland (4-44) and Liam Johnson (3-40), as Elsecar were all out for 142.
Darfield had a quieter afternoon, bowling out Collegiate 2nds for 81, though it took them 42 overs to do so as everybody dug in. Steve Cline took 4-24 in 15 overs and Syed Hassan 3-21 in 13 as Josh Varley (31) and colleagues determined to use each ball as t’were their last. Darfield equally took their time but made fewer mistakes. Tom Eldred had 3-22 but those were all that fell, as Alex Morris (38*) used all his experience to guide Darfield home.
Houghton Main meanwhile continued to win, and stay top of the table, yet heir batting remains unconvincing. Saturday saw them making their highest score of the season – 200 against Wath, but it was largely thanks to Andrew Haupt (51) and Ian Simon (44). The next highest score was 12 as batsmen struggled against Harvey Wootton (5-55) and Rob Barlow (4-21). However, their bowling is strong and Biswick Kapala , Ian Simon and Michael Bates efficiently hoovered around Rob Barlow’s 80, to clean up Wath for 151.
There’s a phrase locally –“to be Strephaned” – which means to see your bowling unexpectedly obliterated by Gary Strephan of Conisbrough. Newly promoted Rockingham came across it for the first time on Saturday. Things were ticking along quietly. The Conisbrough openers had played well but unspectacularly and it was 93-2 with half the overs gone. Amitpaul Kundra was batting sensibly, then in comes Strephan and wham, bang, six fours and eight sixes later he has 104* from eighteen fewer balls than it took Joe Farmer to make 27 and the game’s over. Conisbrough made 261-5 (and not at their home ground I should point out). Shell-shocked Rockingham staggered to 149, with one six between them and several LBWs, as their season continues to stumble after a promising start.
Meanwhile, Sheffield & Phoenix United are improving.
This week they made their highest score – 138, with Isuru Jayakody just one short of 50, but Eknoor Singh took 5-56 to keep Sprotbrough winning, after making 224 themselves, with Gordon Laidlaw (43) and all but three of their batsmen getting double figures - another strong team performance taking the other newcomers to the Championship up to fifth.
In Div 1, leaders Barnsley and Aston Hall 2nds both lost but Oughtibridge won at Upper Haugh to take them up to third in the table and only two points behind.
Next week in the Championship, Conisbrough play Tickhill at home. Could be lots of runs, unless Tickhill’s bowling proves too strong or maybe they’ll get Strephaned!