Booth favourites to lift cup

Actions from Northowram v Booth, cricket at Northowram. Pictured is Richard Laycock
Actions from Northowram v Booth, cricket at Northowram. Pictured is Richard Laycock

Booth will start strong favourites for Sunday’s 129th Halifax Parish Cup final against Copley at Sowerby St Peter’s (1.30).

The league leaders are at full strength for the Briggs Priestley Engravers-sponsored event while a Copley side with growing relegation fears in the Premier Division are without three key men.

The big event of the Halifax League calendar is always held on the first Sunday in August but Ian Hartley, Oliver Thorpe and Alex Rowles clearly weren’t thinking their side would be involved when making alternative plans.

Thorpe was the five-wicket man of the match when Copley lifted the trophy on their own ground two years ago, beating fancied Jer Lane.

Hartley is probably Copley’s main strike bowler while up-and-coming ex-Rastrick player Rowles took three wickets and hit 126 in the quarter final win at Shelf.

That leaves a Copley side looking fairy reliant on hard-hitting Chris Dennison and experienced Craig Taylor, Mohammed Seraj, Mark Baldwin and Chris Goulden.

Booth did disappoint at Twenty/20 finals day but otherwise have hardly put a foot wrong this season, avenging their only league defeat at Triangle with the most emphatic of wins last Saturday.

They let a winning position slip through their fingers against Jer Lane at Blackley in the 2013 final - dropping late catches when their opponents were on the ropes - but have looked a more confident side so far this season.

Their skipper Richard Laycock is unfazed by the expectation surrounding them.“We are favourites because we have a really good team,” he said.

“We’ve just got to make sure we play well. If we don’t we won’t deserve to win.”

Booth have been beaten in four cup finals in the last 11 years - including against Copley at Southowram in 2011 - but they did lift the trophy at Sowerby Bridge in 2009.

Laycock accepts that Booth have been runners-up in the cup and league too often.

“It has been a bit annoying and a bit frustrating that we haven’t managed to win much. “But this season is the best chance we have had. We’ve just got to hold our nerve.”

Laycock said Copley deserved respect, having beaten title contenders Warley in the semi-final, and he said those drafted in for the final would be decent players.

Copley skipper Chris Dennison said it was unfortunate that they had key players missing.

Karl Whipp, in a vich vein of form with the bat for the seconds, and all-rounders Gareth Walker and Freddie Hammond were the players they had brought in.

He believes Booth are the most consistent team and likely to be champions come mid-September.

However, Sowerby has been a happy hunting ground for Copley in the past and Dennison is hoping memories of the 2014 final will spur on those who are involved again.

“It would be nice to do it again. That was a special day with all the Thorpes playing (Richard, Toby and Ollie) and on our own ground.

“Beating Jer Lane made it more special because we don’t do that often.”

Both teams have lost players to cancer in recent times.

Copley wicketkeeper Steve Priestley and Booth bowler Ollie Collinge - whose brother Tom will be playing on Sunday - were real club enthusiasts and are sadly missed.

Teams - Booth: Robert Worsnop, Steve Senior, Robert Laycock, Hasnain Wajid, Richard Laycock, Jon Midgley, Patrick Thomas, Nigel Horsfall, Usman Saghir, Moazzam Ayub, Tom Collinge.

Copley: Chris Dennison, Rishikesh Bhuskute, Karl Whipp, Mark Baldwin, Mohammed Seraj, Craig Taylor, Freddie Hammond, Gareth Walker, Matthew Rowles, Craig Chew, Chris Goulden. 12th man: Jake Alligan.

Umpires: John Senior and Peter Taylor.