With four games to go, they have an unassailable 30 point lead, beating their two closest rivals - Tickhill and Elsecar - in their last two games both by eight wickets. This is perhaps not so surprising because they have finished fifth or higher in the league on all but two occasions over the last nine years.
The first four clubs - Aston Hall, Treeton, Whitley Hall and Wickersley - were promoted last year, but the comprehensive manner of their achievement is worth recording. They have lost only one league game all season. No team has scored more than 191 against them. Only three teams have avoided being all out (and two of those were nine down). By contrast, they have lost four or fewer wickets chasing their opponents’ score nine times.
On Saturday, Elsecar, without Peter Hadfield, struggled to make runs against them. Ian Swallow and Scott Jones (40) put on 59 to give some respectability but Humphrey Emery (4-51) and Shane Smith (3-26) closed out their innings on 154. Like the game against Tickhill, the Hallam batsmen then sped to their total for just two down in 27 overs, Will Hale hitting 66 and Alex Hughes 56*.
With Tickhill not playing, Wath took advantage to leapfrog their promotion rivals and move up to second place (though they have played one game more). Rob Barlow continued his fantastic all-round season by taking 7-67, and is now the league’s leading wicket-taker with 40. He’s also scored a small matter of 721 runs, bettered only by his own team-mate Shawn Dyson, with 802.
Whiston PC, for whom Matthew Burton, Danny Kemp and Steve Taylor each got close to 50, collapsed from 151-2 to 204 all out, then had Wath 97-6, but couldn’t get another wicket as Dyson (114*) and David Mace (33*) took the game away from them.
The east Barnsley derby game at Darfield was won by Houghton Main, Callum Honeyman taking 6-38 as Darfield made 165-9. That they got so many was thanks to their first three and last three batsmen, of whom Haider Jahangir made 39.
The middle five made just 21 between them. And it wasn’t enough.
Ian Simon, Michael Brown, Khurram Javed and Tahir Nawas all made good starts as Houghton won comfortably by five wickets, celebrating with a six off the last ball. Tabassum Bhatti took 4-70.
Winless Coal Aston suffered another heavy defeat as Conisbrough piled up 320 at Stonelow. Arosh Janoda (93) and Nathan Smith (50) dominated again, with Janoda also taking 5-64 out of Coal Aston’s 168. Daniel Hemingway made 65*, Tom Griffin 41, but no-one else made ten.
And equally winless Collegiate B stuttered to 72-6, before Ben Rooke’s 35* and Ben Fielding (31) helped them to double the score to 146-8. Kexborough, however, won easily by seven wickets with eight overs to spare, thanks to a powerful innings of 70* by Adam Wiles.
The last relegation place is still between these two, with six points difference and just four games to go.
The race to replace them through promotion from Division One is becoming exciting.
Thorncliffe lost on Saturday and Rockingham and Hallam B both won. There are now five points separating them, but Hallam have a game in hand, and they’ve yet to play Thorncliffe. It will go to the last game, just as it will in the Championship, where Wath, Elsecar and Tickhill are scrapping over the last place.