Tickhill are not faltering at the top of the South Yorkshire League Championship, with the prize of return to the Premier League in their sights – but then neither are the following pack of three clubs. No-one is flinching.
Tickhill were playing Rockingham – much fancied at the start of the season, but finding things a little tougher now.
On Saturday they struggled to 167-9 in the 38 overs allowed after the rain.
Nazakat Khan (61) and Hamzah Younis (35) pulled them round from 71-5, with Alex Rowland and Ahmad Jamal taking three wickets each.Tickhill got there in 32 overs, with the strongest contributions from Michael Jepps (30) and Jordan Lowe who, after another good performance behind the stumps – two stumpings and a catch – made 42.
Elsecar maintained the chase with a solid win in a dour match against Sheffield and Phoenix who are still to get any points in open play this season.
They made 129-9 in 50 overs with Paul Cummins taking 4-46 but Elsecar took almost as long to overtake them.
Cummins again passed the limpet test – 60* in 143 balls – as did Ian Swallow – 13 in 41. Still it’s a win and that’s what they have to keep doing. It really matters.
Conisbrough are only three points behind in 3rd, and, like Elsecar, have a game in hand on Tickhill.
They scored 184-8 against Rotherham Town. Joe Farmer made 76, his highest of the season, while Arslan Tariq and Irfan Mirza took three wickets each.
Arosh Jonoda then bowled out Rotherham in 27 overs for 89, taking 5-37 and Ben Sommerville 3-17. Briefly Abid Younas (32*) and Mousin Qayyum gave Rotherham hope, doubling the score from 40-8 to 83-9, but it wasn’t enough.
The third of the chasing pack – Houghton Main – had a typically fighting win over Collegiate 2nds who themselves battled to 142-9 in the 45 overs allowed, mainly thanks to Matt Tyas (53) and Andy Simpson (23) who tugged them out of the mire caused by Imran Khan’s 5-28.
Houghton got themselves in even worse trouble on 98-7 before Callum Honeyman (40*) and Simon Ward (31*) took them home with just seven balls to spare.
If you could put Elsecar’s doggedness, Conisbrough’s flair and Houghton Main’s fighting spirit together, you’d have a tremendous premiership team. Sadly, only one’s going to go up alongside Tickhill, unless …. Conisbrough play Elsecar next week when Tickhill aren’t playing. The following week Elsecar play Tickhill.
If they win both they’ll take the lead. If Conisbrough win both their games and Tickhill lose, Conisbrough could be top, especially as they also play Tickhill, in three weeks time – so it’s still all to play for, and you can bet Houghton haven’t given up either.
Somewhere in the middle, Sprotbrough and Wath had a great high-scoring cricket match, without any of these worries.
Nine batsmen between both sides had innings of 25 or more – the highest Charlie Kaye of Sprotbrough making 70*, while Eknoor Singh made 57 and Jonathan Plater of Wath made 51*.
Sprotbrough totalled 282-6 and Wath 206-6 and might have got closer had not Ashley Langdale and Eknoor Singh strangled the middle order with 74 in 29 overs. At the other end, the runs were coming at almost twice that.
In Div 1, Thorncliffe beat Aston Hall 2nds, enabling Whitley Hall 2nds to go top and, with Thorncliffe just behind and Oughtibridge recovering their winning form, there are four clubs with six points between them and two promotion places to play for – and behind them, Barnsley 2nds and Hallam 2nds are pushing hard.
All in all, it’s building up to a great end of season.