Halifax League: Sowerby hit back to stun Hedge Top

Leaders Illingworth celebrate a wicket at Mytholmroyd
Leaders Illingworth celebrate a wicket at Mytholmroyd

The shouts of celebrating bowlers and fielders reverberated around Spenser Wilson Halifax League grounds on a frequent basis yesterday as wickets tumbled on rain affected pitches.

Runs were hard to come by in the Premier Division, notable at Sowerby St Peters where all 20 wickets fell for 116 runs and the home side pulled off an unlikely victory over Shelf Northowram Hedge Top.

Jack Hemblys must have felt he had set up a victory for the visitors when he gained figures of 2.5-1-5-6 and sent Sowerby packing for 66.

However, it was then the turn of the visiting batsmen to struggle and only Babar Malik (12) and Jonathan Marshall (14) made double figures as Gavin Hayes (4-9) dismissed Hedge Top for 50.

SBCI managed only 75 away to Oxenhope, who were registering their first win of the season.

The home side looked vulnerable when their last seven batsmen contributed only 18 runs and they were all out for 155. However, the value of Lewis Hopkinson’s 73 - the highest score in the section on the day - became apparent as the game progressed. Ben Howell’s 4-14, which included the wickets of top-scoring SBCI pair Tom Wood (23) and Simon Wood (16), helped Oxenhope get on top.

Illingworth stretched into a 10-point lead at the top with a 37-run win away to second-place Mytholmroyd.

Sent in to bat, a combination of poor shot selection and excellent catching left Illingworth 45-4 when rain and hail intervened, James Cowens taking two one-handed catches in the slips.

The match was reduced to 29 overs a side and Illingworth continued to lose wickets at regular intervals. Jamie Moorhouse (43) and Stephen Cook (32) were the only batsmen to make an impression with Amjid Azam picking up 4-47 and Cowens returning a handy 3-30.

Mytholmroyd started badly in pursuit of a target of 140 off 29 overs as Jamie Moorhouse’s first ball kept low and bowled Tom Earle.

A spell of tight bowling followed from Moorhouse and Luke Brooksby, who shared the first seven wickets to leave the hosts 56-7 off 20 overs, Cowens hitting 25. There were excelling catches from Ben Robertshaw, Matthew Sewell and Stephen Cook.

A late rally from Henry Lamper (24 no) saw Mytholmroyd gain a batting point, with Illingworth unable to take the last wicket, and the leaders had to settle for nine points.

There was a nerve-jangling match at Broad Fold Park were Booth edged out Warley by just three runs in the battle of the teams who cleaned up on the trophy front in 2018.

Matthew Steers didn’t play a part in Warley’s Parish Cup and T20 successes - he was at Barkisland last season - but the spinner’s 6-42 dismissed champions Booth for 172 runs.

It would have been a lot worse for the hosts but for the efforts of another player who transferred over the winter, ex-Sowerby player Matthew Hoyle. He hit 48 runs after coming in at 99-6.

The returning Chris Atkinson made 38 at the top of the Warley order and South African Cameron Van Rensberg 31 to help the visitors to 88-2 before change bowlers Nigel Horsfall (5-49) and Moazzam Ayub (4-53) made the difference for Booth, who had been desperate to avoid a third defeat in four outings this season.

Sowerby Bridge scrambled a two-wicket win over visitors Thornton, who were dismissed for 134 with Tom Belfield taking 5-37.

A third-wicket stand of 97 between Joshua Wood (48) and Nick Whitehill (47) proved vital for Bridge before the late clatter of wickets made it close.

The only 200-plus scores were registered at Triangle - no surprise there considering the confines of the Grassy Bottom pitch and the club’s fine covers.

The game against Copley was reduced to 30 overs per side and the hosts managed 208-5 with another half-century for Chris Metcalf (67) and an unbeaten 57 from Dan Crosland.

However, Copley were up to the task and Will Rushton (58 no), Alex Blagborough (58) and Matthew Rowles (50) gave them victory with two overs to spare, lifting them to third in the table.

Premier Division: *Booth 172 (Hoyle 48, Steers 6-42), Warley 169 (Horsfall 5-49, Ayub 4-53): pts 12-5. Illingworth St Mary’s 139 (Moorhouse 43, Azam 4-47), *Mytholmroyd 102-9 (Brooksby 4-15): pts 11-4. *Oxenhope 155 (Hopkinson 73), SBCI 75 (Howell 4-14): pts 12-3. Thornton 134 (Belfield 5-37), *Sowerby Bridge 138-8 (Wood 48, Whitehill 47): pts 3-12. *Sowerby St Peter’s 66 (Hemblys 6-5), Shelf Northowram HT 50 (Hayes 4-9): pts 12-3. *Triangle 208-5 (Metcalf 67, Crosland 57no), Copley 211-5 (Rushton 58no, Blagborough 58, Rowley 50): pts 4-10.

Points: Illingworth 44, Mytholmroyd 34, Copley 33, Warley 32, Thornton 30, Sowerby Bridge 30, Booth 29, Sowerby St Peters 29, SBCI 25, Triangle 23, Shelf Northowram HT 22, Oxenhope 20.