While all the talk this season has been about the two powerhouses of Whitley Hall and Treeton, another club has been quietly making inroads into their territory and are now firmly in the top three to get automatic promotion to the new Yorkshire League South at the end of the season.
Aston Hall have lost fewer games (two) than anyone in the Championship and on Saturday, they obliterated Coal Aston in a performance so clinical that they must be taken seriously as potential outright champions.
Steve Ludlam took 8-17 (six clean bowled) as Coal Aston were dismissed for just 36 in 12 overs. Aston Hall required only 4.3 overs to win by 10 wickets. It’s not the lowest score in the league’s history - that honour goes to Beighton, all out for 8 against Mexborough in 1961 - but there can’t be many sides who’ve taken just 27 balls to get their winning total.
Actually, it was a day of remarkable performances. Matthew Edmondson, Division Two Upper Haugh’s New Zealander, belted Wickersley seconds for a league record 257 (41 fours and nine sixes) out of 405-4 - which was only 16 off the team record! I wouldn’t like to have been driving down Northfield Road on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Whitley Hall lost for the third time in four league games. Wickersley (just glad not to be at home!) got their revenge for last Sunday’s Whitworth Cup semi-final defeat by scoring 236-7 (Jordan Lowe 61) and bowling out Whitley for 219, Iftikhar Afzal (5-54) coming back decisively as Whitley collapsed from 206-5 (Sam Chatterton 55).
Treeton now go top as Steve Foster scored 127 out of 323-7 (Charlie Roebiuck 95) and took 5-26, to beat Darfield - 233 all out (Charlie Kaye 78). He can play a bit, can Fozzy.
Wath at last got a win, beating Elsecar (230-7) by five wickets - junior Harvey Wooton’s 80 trumping Paul Cummins’s 70 and Ainsley Swallow’s 56, but they stay joint bottom with Coal Aston.
Nick Dymock gave Hallam some breathing space, hitting 52 to beat Tickhill’s 131 by four wickets, but nearly lost his own after being flattened by a Steve Reid bouncer, collapsing on his stumps and having to go to hospital - just precautionary.
Conisbrough got back to winning ways, scoring 253-8 (Michael Blakemore 63) and bowling out Houghton Main for 145 (Arosh Janoda 6-56).
Sunday saw the T20 Finals at Wath. Wickersley eased past Darfield in the morning semi-final, scoring 144-5 and reducing Darfield to 89-7, but James Ward doesn’t give up and his 45 almost got them there before he was bowled last ball just nine behind.
Whitley Hall were even less comfortable victors over Coal Aston. They could only manage 102 and with Coal Aston 82-4, must have feared the worst, but James Ahmed and Jim Tasker brought them back from the brink to win by three runs. The evening’s final sadly gave them little time to recover, especially as Shaajhan Younis was in imperious form.
His 100 took Wickersley to 188-3 and Whitley, in their current slough, were never in it. Neil Longhurst made 31 but there was no-one else to match him and junior Edward Ellis, Mohammed Ilyas and that man Younis shared nine of the 10 wickets as Whitley were all out for 104.
Following other games on Sunday, the final of the President’s Cup on August 9 will see Mexborough play Tickhill seconds and the final of the Billy Oates Trophy on August 16 will see Wentworth play Shiregreen seconds.
But the top match - the final of the Nicholas Associates Whitworth Cup - is this Sunday at Wickersley, between Treeton and Whitley Hall.
If Whitley can shake off some injuries and get everyone back to form under Tasker’s leadership, it should be a fantastic game. Treeton have Foster at his very best at the moment, and the league’s most exciting batsman in Roebuck, let alone their other stars, Davis, Cunningham, Cobb etc. They’ll take some beating, but Whitley have won five times in the last six years, including against Treeton last year, so it might be a trifle bold to write them off.
Whatever the result, it will be well worth watching!