Cleckheaton are strong favourites to retain the JCT 600 Bradford League First Division championship and have taken a giant step towards winning their second title in a row this week, beating Morley by nine wickets while their main rivals Woodlands and Pudsey St Lawrence suffered surprise defeats.
The results leave Cleckheaton 35 points ahead of Woodlands with five matches to play while Farsley and Pudsey St Lawrence are a further nine points adrift.
Paceman Iain Wardlaw took five for 32 and overseas leg-spinner Tanzeel Altaf three for 21 as Morley were bowled out for a mere 78.
Then Altaf, promoted to open the innings, struck five sixes and two fours in his 45 not out as Cleckheaton reached their modest target in only 8.4 overs.
New Farnley severely dented Woodlands’ title hopes with a tense four-run win. Skipper Mark Lawson top scored with 60 not out in New Farnley’s total of 139 for nine in a 39 overs per side match as Sarfraz took four for 30 and Chris Brice four for 41.
Woodlands were reduced to 52 for six in reply as Nick Walker took four for 33. Wicket-keeper Usman Salim led the revival with 41, but they finished agonisingly short on 135 for nine.
Farsley beat neighbours Pudsey St Lawrence in a match reduced to 20 overs at Tofts Road - a result that leaves both clubs on 180 points, but Farsley moved into third place above St Lawrence because they have won one more match.
Chris Marsden top scored with 70 not out as St Lawrence reached 141 for six before Barrie Frankland (61) and former Yorkshire batsman Joe Sayers (59) put together an opening stand of 106 to set up a seven-wicket victory with 11 balls to spare.
Hanging Heaton are three points behind St Lawrence after beating Pudsey Congs at home by 14 runs.
Joe Fraser (59), David Stiff (52) and Gary Fellows (45) were the main contributors as Hanging Heaton totalled 222 for seven in 35 overs. Stiff then followed up his fine performance with the bat by taking five for 46 as Congs were restricted to 208 for nine, of which Callum Geldart made 44.
Lightcliffe beat Bradford & Bingley by 24 runs at Wagon Lane in a match restricted to 26 overs.
Skipper Jonathan Wilson led the way with 63 while Alex Stead made 45 and Suleman Khan 36 not out as Lightcliffe reached 173 for four. Captain Phil Slater (56) and Ryan Cooper (52 not out) spearheaded Bingley’s response, but their challenge faltered as they settled on 149 for nine with off-spinner Josh Wheatley taking four for 29 and slow left-arm bowler Chris Greenwood three for 29.
Bottom club Yeadon’s home match against fellow strugglers East Bierley was abandoned when a thunderstorm brought proceedings to a premature end.
Wicket-keeper Jake Wray scored 70 as Yeadon made 180 for five in 39 overs before Bierley replied with 24 for no loss in 7.5 overs when the rain came.
With Second Division leaders Undercliffe having a day off, the focus was on Saltaire and Keighley, who are battling for second place.
Second-placed Saltaire managed a 10-run win over Idle at Roberts Park in a match reduced to 30 overs a side. Saltaire were bowled out for 122 with Ijaz Ahmed taking three for 35 and Nik Cumming three for 32.
Cumming followed up his fine performance with the ball by making 48, but his efforts were in vain as Idle were dismissed for 112.
Undercliffe have a 41-point lead over Saltaire with Keighley a further 13 points further back after a 74-run win over Brighouse in a 25-over match.
Australian Andrew King took four for 19 and Tom Stead four for 29 as they bowled out Brighouse for 77 in reply to Keighley’s 151 for nine.
© Cricket World 2014