The visitor's reaction to what could be a significant result in the title race.
Simon Mason battled hard for a well deserved half century.
A valuable 56 for Tanzeel Altaf.
Nicholson swept to fifty as he played a series of attacking shots, and when the stand reached a century Cleckheaton were definitively in the ascendency. However, when Nicholson was run out for 58 by a brilliant piece of fielding from Richardson, it was left to the misfiring batsman Tanzeel Altaf to accompany the stubborn Jackson at 126-3.The stand was worth 58 runs when Jackson was clean bowled trying to attack the returning Ahmed. Jackson’s 70 runs were invaluable when one acknowledges he had helped his team weather the early storm to put them into a position to reach a competitive score.
JCT 600 BRADFORD LEAGUE DIV 1
SATURDAY 5th JULY 2014
Report by Reg Nelson
Altaf who had previously had a reputation for going for suicide shots early in his innings played himself in before treating the crowd to some dazzling strokeplay hitting 5 sixes and 2 fours, with one of the straight sixes off Swanepoel apparently landing in Cleckheaton Road. He was dismissed for 56 off 34 balls in the most unfortunate circumstances being run out at the non striking end when Ahmed had touched the ball onto the stumps.
He had been the catalyst for Cleckheaton’s late surge as James Lee also chipped in with an unbeaten 25 to take the score to 243-7. As usual Ahmed was the pick of the Woodlands bowlers with 5-50, with Brice 0-59 off 10 overs being unusually expensive.
Sam in defensive mode.
In arguably the first real defining match in the 2014 First Division title race Cleckheaton maintained their top place with a thrilling victory over a Woodlands side who continued to show stuttering form. Cleckheaton won the toss and decided to bat despite the overnight rain. They were soon in trouble at 22-2 with Andy Gorrod (0) and John Wood (6) back in the pavilion as Safraz Ahmed and Pieter Swanepoel had a familiar grip on proceedings.
It was surprising to see Ian Wood take the new ball for Cleckheaton so soon after his
knee operation,and he soon showed his prowess getting Sam Frankland caught behind for 1 with the score on 21. His older brother John Wood partnered him in an attack that proved difficult to get away for opener Duncan Snell and his former York comrade Simon Mason. Gradually they weathered the storm and took the score comfortably passed the fifty mark without getting on top of the bowling. When Cleckheaton introduced leg spinner Tanzeel Altaf his first ball was a long-hop that Snell hit over the leg side boundary for six. His next ball was equally poor but Snell’s shot found the only fielder on the leg boundary, Gorrod who took an impressive low catch.
Opener Tim Jackson and Ian Nicholson strived manfully for stability with few attacking shots offered. Scott Richardson and Chris Brice replaced the opening bowlers in an attempt to break the increasingly troublesome third wicket partnership as they edged the score to 76-2 at the half-way mark as honours appeared to be relatively even.
Bricey catches John Wood for 6.
Snell had played himself in for 39 in 20 overs but failed to capitalise as the score became 72-2. This brought in Cumberland batsman Logan Weston who had recently scored 80-plus for the Unicorns against Surrey. However, the vastly underrated left arm spinner Andy Deegan induced him to play a careless shot to Lee for 5 runs. This brought in the promoted Usman Salim who got off the mark first ball with two but looked all at sea against the spin attack and he fell victim to Deegan for 2. Safraz was promoted to presumably hit the spin bowlers off their line. He did hit one towering six after having a life at six, but on this occasion did not make an impact as he fell to Altaf for 13. At 108-5 Woodlands were in big trouble as the stricken Grant Soames walked to the crease. He was clearly not fully recovered from his recent injury but battled through nine balls for 3. Mason was still at the crease giving Woodlands hope as Brice accompanied him in a stand of 37 in which the latter dominated with 27 hard hit runs.
After Brice’s departure the main hope was Mason who was choosing his big shots with some care. When he reached 51 he mistimed one off Altaf to second teamer Chris Dobson who put down a very straightforward catch. Ironically two runs later he went for a big shot off Altaf which appeared to be sailing over the boundary edge at the pavilion end only for Lee to leap up in the air and catch it one handed. It was an incredible catch the like of which one sees very infrequently in a lifetime of watching. The match was ostensibly all over at 154-8 but skipper Swanepoel had other ideas. He launched an attack on the bowling to such an extent he scored 44 runs in 30 balls with 4 fours and 3 sixes and gave Woodlands an outside chance of victory in the latter overs. Adam Goldthorpe batting at No.11 scored a rapid 21 runs with two big sixes but it was too little too late as Swanepoel was stranded on 44 not out, with his team missing out by 21 runs. The big talking point from the Woodlands point of view was the folly of Swanepoel batting as late as No.9. For John Wood, he can reflect on the virtuoso performance of Altaf who followed his batting heroics with 6-36 off 15 overs with the ball and helped to increase Cleckheaton’s lead at the top to 24 points. The fact that Pudsey St Lawrence lost will only make his beer taste sweeter.