Woodlands consolidated their lead at the top of the JCT 600 Bradford League after a tense two wicket win at East Bierley. There were just three balls to spare when new batsman Richard Spittlehouse scored the winning runs - a cover drive for four off Kez Ahmed. By David Markham
Bierley scored 181-7 in a match reduced to 28 overs because of rain. Former Yorkshire, Scotland and England player Gavin Hamilton led the way with 87, including three sixes and 11 fours, sharing an opening stand of 116 with Gharib Razak 24. After they had gone, former Yorkshire wicketkepeer, now an umpire Ishy Dawood held the rest of the innings together with 28 as Woodlands skipper Pieter Swanepoel took 5-62.
Woodlands' match winner was overseas pace bowler Sarfraz Ahmed. The side were in trouble at 46-4 when Sarfraz strode to the wicket, but he transformed the game with 85 from 38 balls, hitting seven sixes and eight fours and received good support from Grant Soames (32).
Woodlands' win left them 15 points ahead of second placed Cleckheaton, who gained a nine wicket home win against Manningham Mills.
Pace bowlers James Lee with 5-29 and skipper John Wood 4-5 ripped through the Mills batting line-up to dismiss the visitors for a mere 74.
Cleckheaton then cruised to victory for the loss of one wicket to leave them 15 points behind Woodlands.
Defending champions Pudsey Congs, who came from behind to snatch the title with nine wins from their last ten matches last year, are in third place four points behind Cleckheaton after a 68-run home win over bottom club Gomersal.
Eugene Burzler top scored with 82 with good support from Adam Patel (40), skipper Andrew Bairstow (38 not out) and Mark Gill (35) as Congs totalled 216-5.
Overseas pace bowler Muhammad Naved then took 6-34 as Gomersal were dismissed for 148, of which Greg Pickles made 42 and Shabbir Rashid 35.
This defeat leaves Gomersal 14 points adrift at the bottom and in grave danger of relegation, but next to the bottom Baildon gave themselves renewed hope of avoiding the drop with a thrilling two-run home win over Priestley Cup finalists Pudsey St Lawrence in a game reduced to 28 overs.
Tom Smallwood took two wickets in the last over as St Lawrence finished on 145-9 after chasing Baildon’s 147-8.
Skipper James Smith led the visitors’ run chase with 36, but they kept losing vital wickets as they finished agonisingly short of their target.
Sri Lankan Dehiwalage Perera was Baildon’s most successful bowler with 3-56 while Tabbi Bhatti top scored with 47 not out as Baildon reached 147-8. Despite this welcome win Baildon are still 27 points adrift of safety.
There was another thrilling finish in a 32 over match at Undercliffe where Bradford & Bingley scraped home by one wicket off the last ball with the help of three extras.
They looked to be heading for defeat at 65-7 chasing Undercliffe’s 142-6 as Yorkshire paceman Moin Ashraf took three wickets, but Matthew Duce with 30 and Richard McCarthy 29 put them back in contention as they added 53 for the eighth wicket.
There was a blow for Bingley when McCarthy was run out with four balls left, but a bye, followed by a single to Will Briggs, a leg bye and then another bye from the last ball of Ashraf’s over took the visitors to victory.
Earlier, Undercliffe made 142-6 with skipper Ben Heritage top scoring with 47 and Nawaz Sardar making 32.
Bowlers, opener Chris Henry with 4-41 and left arm spinner Lorenzo Ingram 4-8 led fourth placed Farsley to 22-run win at Hanging Heaton.
A win looked unlikely when the visitors were dismissed for 129 with skipper John Carruthers (4-31) and ex- Farsley leg spinner Mark Lawson (3-28) doing the damage, but they hit back well to bowl out Hanging Heaton for 107.
© Cricket World 2011