Whitley Hall move imperiously on, winning convincingly on Saturday, but there is still a tight following group of five clubs who are determined to make this year’s Championship interesting right to the end.
Yorkshire Black Sheep Cup winners Elsecar, struggling to recover from a poor start to the season, made one of their better team scores of 214, with 50s from Luke Aitken and Jason Meadows.
But it was well behind Whitley’s 274-8, for whom the whole team seem to be contributing; seven of the top eight batsmen made scores, led by captain Jim Tasker (62). The eighth, Greig Batty, took 6-34 to snuff out Elsecar.
Darfield are still leaders of the chasing pack, thanks to their own Bhatti, who scored his second century of the season (107).
And with Adam Wiles hitting an unbeaten 71, they passed Houghton Main’s 243 (Liam Rigby 67, Rob Jones 49) for three wickets down.
Treeton and Aston Hall are a point behind, with Aston Hall beating their rivals on Saturday, thanks to another determined team performance. Adam Whiteley made 58 at the top but many others contributed to their 232-9 - including the last pair, who put on 37 without being out.
Treeton have tended to rely on their top order to overwhelm opposition and when it failed, couldn’t find enough runs in the middle to get more than 176 (Irfan Mirza 41, Greg Norton 38).
Uzman Azeem took 4-44.
Tickhill are still there, too, after holding off Conisbrough. Tickhill made 219 (from 135-7) largely thanks to a blistering 90 from 87 balls by Matthew Kilvington - and 51 extras! Conisbrough, who must have felt everything was against them, subsided for 171 (Matthew Barnes 59, Steve Reid 4-52).
Challenging, too, are Wickersley who made 251-9 (Jordan Lowe 63) and restricted Hallam to 213-8 (Nick Dymock 59, Mohammed Ilyas 4-62).
The battle at the bottom was won by Coal Aston, whose batting at last came together. They scored 232-7 (Laurence Browes 83, David Rodgers 56). Wath had their own batting pair (Sam Drury 60, Shawn Dyson 50) but with Danny Hemingway taking 4-37, they were never quite in the hunt and ended 20 short on 212-8.
On Sunday, in the Whitworth Cup, Whitley underlined their present mastery, smashing Aston Hall for 376-4 (Greig Batty 113*, Matt Milburn 82, Jim Tasker 67). Aston made 250 in reply but much of that was due to Rob Ward, who blistered 71 in 32 balls from number ten.
Next week, the game to watch will be Darfield against Aston Hall and Treeton against Conisbrough, as the winners break out of the pack, but it would be even more interesting (and remarkable!) if Tickhill beat Whitley Hall!
In Division One, last week’s league leaders – Rotherham Town seconds and Whiston - both lost, but held on to their lead and were joined by Barnsley seconds (who beat Whiston).
Of the Sheffield sides, Norton Oakes missed their chance to move ahead by losing to Rockingham Colliery. Muenoddin Kadri made 115 and Robin Singh 52, as Rockingham scored 239-6, despite Josh Thompson taking 4-48. Then Mark Wilkinson (4-63) reduced Oakes to 48-4. Chris Baker (86) and David Revill (48*) brought them round, but 184-7 still wasn’t enough.
Collegiate seconds were the slayers of Rotherham, mainly thanks to 100* from Nick Gaywood (surely ready to return to the 1sts), 51 from Daniel Priestley and 4-34 from Alex Varley, making 294-6 to Rotherham’s 206 all out.
Millhouses Works won also, by bowling out Aston Hall seconds for 59 at Millhouses Park, which seems to be a pleasant place – for bowlers.
Nazakat Khan took 4-23, Matt Scholey 4-10 and Richard Stump of Aston 6-36 as Millhouses lost seven wickets getting to 61.
Navid Kanwal‘s 5-32 pulled Norton Woodseats back into the game against Kexborough, bowling them out for 209 after they’d been 154-1, but their batsmen fell short as Woodseats were all out for 151.
Similarly, Shiregreen just couldn’t muster enough runs as they were all out for 167, chasing Whitley Hall seconds’ 188-9 in which juniors Oliver Warren and Biswick Kapala both made crucial 40s.