More rain on Saturday, but four Championship games were played, including the crunch match between Elsecar and Tickhill. There were also two stunning, match-winning individual performances by Rob Barlow of Wath and Arosh Janoda of Conisbrough.
It was pretty intense stuff at Elsecar as second played third with two strong bowling attacks on a rain-affected wicket and a game reduced to 34 overs a side. Tickhill bowled first but struggled initially. Siviwe Gidana, their new South African, got injured and had to come off after two overs. Paul Cummins and Jason Meadows made an opening stand of 64, easily the best of the match, but both fell together and now it was Elsecar who struggled.
Ainsley Swallow fought hard but wickets fell regularly at the other end to Josh Court (4-34) and Alex Rowland (3-16) and Elsecar closed on 136-9. Tickhill found conditions no easier.
James Stuart’s 29 was the top score and Shahzad Rana (3-32) made batting hard. With two balls to go and just two wickets left, the injured Gidana hit the winning four, and Tickhill move up. They’re now joint second with Whiston who beat Collegiate, after an equally tense tussle.
Whiston and Collegiate were able to manage 42 overs a side and Andy Tomlinson (49) led the powerful Whiston team to 221-7, Ben Fielding’s 4-39 preventing worse damage. Dan Priestley (70) built the Collegiate reply and they might have won had Danny Kemp not removed Adrian Meadows (40) within sight of the target. In the end, Matt Tyas held out in the last over as Whiston needed one more wicket with Collegiate 197-9.
Wath, who beat Houghton Main, are now level with Elsecar, almost entirely due to captain Barlow, Wath through and through. He took 9-27, a fantastic performance for a leg-spinner in damp conditions, overtaking Humphrey Emery’s as the best bowling performance of the season. Only Ian Simon (44) held out, as Houghton were dismissed for 122. Thoroughly fired up, Barlow then went out to open the batting and scored 61 as Wath comfortably won by eight wickets. He won’t have many better days!
Janoda, Conisbrough’s Sri Lankan, can belt a ball and can usually be relied on for four or five sixes a match, batting at number seven. On Saturday, Conisbrough tried plan A against Rotherham Town – win the toss, bowl them out, knock them off. It’s worked all season against Rotherham. But Rizwan Ali was determined to change that, his 72* taking his team to 156-8 (they only had nine men!), comfortably their best of the season. Concerned about rain, Conisbrough shoved Janoda in first, with the equally powerful Gary Stephan, who was out in the first over, but not another wicket fell as Janoda struck 13 fours and eight sixes in 115* from 68 balls (that’s 100 in boundaries!) and Conisbrough won by nine wickets.
There were no games at Darfield (v Hallam) or Coal Aston (v Kexborough). But on Sunday, the weather was kinder and the Mick Savage semi-finals were played, Hallam II beating Shiregreen and Rockingham beating Worsbrough Bridge. The final’s on July 31.
Next week the new second and third play off – Tickhill v Whiston - and the new fourth and fifth, Wath v Elsecar. Should be great games. Hallam, who are still 17 points clear, haven’t played since June 25 (but can’t complain because they’ve still missed fewer than most). They’ll be hoping to play against Coal Aston at Sandygate and on Sunday they’re in the South Yorkshire T20 Finals at Abbeydale against Appleby Frodingham, Collegiate and Wickersley.