We are getting used to this. Summer – with sunshine and a full days’ cricket played.
Although it should be said that the rain of the end of last week will have had a few thoughts of resignation going through opening batsmen’s heads at the thought of another green seamer to bat on, instead of the expected ‘shirt fronter’ that should be available in late July.
Last week saw our Sheffield sides facing home games against traditional Yorkshire league opponents in Rotherham and Doncaster.
Collegiate took on basement side Rotherham wary of the fact that the visitors had picked up their first win of the season the week before against United.
The away side won the toss and batted first which simply gave Henry Eldred and Rob Shaw the chance to exploit their skills, decimating the top order of the Rotherham line up. Each took two wickets and with Billy Root picking up Saj Mahmood, Collegiate had reduced the score to 33-5.
Irfan Mirza and Muhammad Saeed struck up a solid partnership of 63, before Shaw returned to the attack and ran through the lower order to finish a superb 6-30. Mirza finished unbeaten on 40, but the total of 119 all out didn’t feel like it was ever going to be enough.
Mahmood picked up the early wicket of Eliot Callis, but left the attack after seven overs, and Dan Walton (30) and Billy Root (59) took the innings forward. However their partnership was broken at 84, to make the score 98-2 and it then seemed like the Collegiate middle order left the task of winning the game to each other, as three further wickets fell before Eldred scored the two necessary for the comfortable win at 120-5.
Shahid Mohammed finished with 2-12 for Rotherham whose fate, though not confirmed, seems obvious.
At Bawtry Road, United faced Doncaster Town who had found some form in recent weeks to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.
United have not matched their early season form since Azeem Rafiq re-joined Yorkshire and have slipped closer to the relegation position themselves. Doncaster won the toss and inserted their hosts and made a good start picking up both openers with just 17 on the board.
Danial Rafiq (32) regained some form in partnership with Jack Roberts (24) to take the score to 61, before Luke Townsend dismissed them both in an excellent spell that saw him finish with 5-39 from 13 overs.
Only some late hitting by Rudraksh Mangrola got United up to a workable total as they finished on 144 all out, with only three batsmen in double figures and Doncaster’s attack contributing 16 in wides and no balls.
This last detail proved to be crucial, as United’s attack chipped away at the Doncaster top order despite some quick hitting by Charlie Kaye (50).
All the bowlers contributed to the cause and Doncaster were in trouble at 87-6, but then a patient partnership between Alex Gosney and Matthew Head saw Doncaster up to 121. Opening bowler Yaqoob Yousuf then returned to dismiss them both and the tide turned back to the home side at 125-8, and Andrew Judge then took the final two wickets as Doncaster had edged their way towards the target, but finished just five runs short on 139.
Yousuf, Judge and James Exley finished with three victims apiece as United picked up a much need victory over a side just below them in the table, grateful for those extras from the visitors’ bowling attack.
This week, United are again at home, but to table toppers Wakefield Thornes, with Collegiate visiting relegation threatened Treeton.
STANDINGS (15 games): Wakefield Thornes 148; Appleby Frodingham 128; COLLEGIATE 106; Wickersley 100; Whitley Hall 96; Cleethorpes 90; UNITED 88; Aston Hall 86; Barnsley 74; Doncaster 68; Treeton 64; Rotherham 26
Elsewhere, it was a week of missed opportunities for the top two as both sides experienced a rare defeat. Wakefield Thornes had pretty much dominated the season so far, but were shocked by Treeton at Washfield Lane.
Muhammad Attari and Steve Foster reduced the leaders to 47-5 before Tom Froggatt (40) and Greg Wadsworth (38) combined to get Thornes back on track.
After Archie Ogden picked up Wardsworth, Attari returned to polish off the innings to finish with excellent figures of 6-30 and Thornes were all out for 159. Treeton needed a solid start and Gareth Davis (46) provided it at the top of the innings, and with contributions from Sam Drury (28) and Archie Ogden (26*), Treeton pulled off the shock victory their bowling deserved, by a three wicket margin.
Appleby Frodingham could not take advantage however, losing to Wickersley by five wickets. Wickersley inserted their visitors and chipped away at the line-up as visiting batsmen consistently got in and got out. Mark Cummins took 5-41 and Iftikhar Afzal added 4-33 to reduce the innings to 158 all out, Matt Morland top scoring with 34. In reply Dave Rodgers provided the lead role with 61 and with skipper Stuart Guy chipping in with an unbeaten 38, Wickersley eased home with five wickets and five overs to spare, up to fourth place.
Whitley Hall moved up to fifth with a comprehensive 90-run victory over Cleethorpes on the east coast. Solid contributions from James Moorhouse (42), Neil Longhurst (39) and Chris Siddall (34) saw Whitley post 207-7 batting first, with a remarkable 34 runs gifted to them in wides. Piet Swanepoel then showed his class in ripping through the home side with 4-44, reducing them to 52-7, with support from Longhurst. Ian Mansfield (32) and Alex Willerton (37) prevented complete disaster for Cleethorpes but Callum Bethel’s 2-34 clinched victory, the home side finishing 117 all out.
And Aston Hall beat Barnsley at Shaw Lane. Batting first, the visitors were indebted to Maurice Chambers’ 68 in a total of 189-9, with Zohaib Ahmad picking up 3-34. The experienced pair of Jon Trower (41) and Jason Booth (39) showed the required patience in reply, but their teammates couldn’t match that application in the face of strong bowling from Josh Coulson (4-26) and Chambers (3-70). Booth was the last wicket to fall as Aston Hall won by 26 runs.
This week sees Barnsley host Wickersley, Rotherham make the long trip to Cleethorpes and Doncaster welcome Aston Hall. Whitley Hall face Appleby Frodingham.