Running into an in-form Carl Fletcher is arguably a Halifax League cricket team’s worst nightmare and it happened to champions Booth yesterday.
The Triangle batsman, a Goliath of a cricketer, clubbed 165 off just 67 balls to help his side pile up 374-6 at Broad Fold Park.
There was still a dream outcome for the hosts, who showed the composure and quality which has taken them to successive titles. They knocked off the runs to win by six wickets with nine balls to spare.
Although second-placed Booth dropped two points further behind Thornton at the top of the table, skipper Richard Laycock said a 10 point return from a game against a dangerous Triangle side was a favourable outcome, particularly after how things had stood at tea,
Skipper Christian Silkstone made 59 but Triangle were wobbling at 124-4 until Fletcher and Chris Metcalf (75) set about the home attack, adding 181.
Fletcher hit 15 maximums and offered just one difficult chance, to Laycock’s brother Rob on the boundary edge when on 46.
Richard Laycock said: “He’s very powerful and hits the ball a long way.
“Some days on Booth, on the right wicket and with a quick outfield, there is not a lot you can do in the field.”
It was that understanding of the situation that gave Booth the hope that they could average at least a couple of boundaries per over and come out of top.
A 128-run opening stand between Jon Midgley (79) and Steve Senior (25) gave Booth’s reply a strong base and the Laycocks hit 78 apiece to take the home side close before Usman Saghir (52no) thumped successive deliveries from Silkstone for six to settle the runfest in Booth’s favour.
Thornton stretched their lead at the half-way point of the season to four points with a routine eight-wicket win at home to Southowram.
The visitors just reached the 180 mark - worth maximum batting points - but their total must have been a disappointment after a flying start and being 143-3 at one stage.
Greg Soames (5-54) and Ben Burkill (4-19) were the players responsible for pegging them back.
Soames followed up with 50 not out and fellow top-order men Ross Carnall (58) and Nikki Hutchinson (62) were also among the runs as Thornton cantered to victory in 28 overs.
Third-placed Warley limbered up for next weekend’s attempt to beat Booth for the third time this season with a 169-run home win over bottom side Bridgeholme.
It featured 124 not out from Chris Atkinson, who batted through Warley’s 45 overs. He and Nolan Bottomley (43) shared an opening stand of 131 and Dan Syme’s 53 helped Warley reach 288-4.
Only three players made double figures in the Eastwood side’s reply - Jason Barker (38), Mohammed Basharat (22) and No 9 Sam Dunkley (40 no) as Amjid Azam (4-60) and Cameron van Rensberg (3-9) dismissed the visitors for 119.
SBCI won by five wickets at Copley in a game between sides too near to the foot of the table for comfort.
Tyson Illingworth dismissed Copley’s five leading scorers, headed by Oliver Thorpe (70) and Alex Rowles (65), as the hosts made 242-7.
Tom Wood then anchored SBCI’s reply superbly with an unbeaten 105, his brother Simon (43) and Daniel Brock (37) offering valuable assistance in a successful pursuit.
Mytholmroyd were without the talented Earle brothers on a trip to Oxenhope but half a dozen players made excellent contributions in a comprehensive 114-run win for the fourth-placed side.
Openers Matthew Scholefield (43) and Hasan Jamil (53) set the ball rolling and Luke Sutcliffe (67), Tom Conway (67) and Zeb Mahmood (36 no) followed their lead.
Chasing 313-8, Spencer Harris (5-81) and James Cowens (4-17) helped dismiss Oxenhope for 199 with Harris ending Edward Jackson’s threat with the home player on 70.
Shelf Northowram Hedge Top were comfortable 86-run winners of a home match against fellow mid-table side Sowerby St Peter’s.
The hosts posted a 244 total, no better than par, with Martin Schofield (6-95) and Matthew Hoyle (4-81) as usual bowling the lion’s share of the overs for Sowerby.
Jonathon Marshall’s 58 and Taylor Swaine’s 47 off 19 balls lifted the home side, whose bowlers then reduced Sowerby to 39-4 thanks to Robert Ramsden’s opening burst.
Harry Talbot (4-68), last week’s hero with the bat at Triangle, then took over and at 88-9 the visitors appeared to be chasing a lost cause.
However, Jack Helliwell (36) and Schofield (39 no) added 70 and salvaged a couple of batting points before Jack Hemblys bowled Helliwell.
Premier Division: Triangle 374-4 (Fletcher 165, Metcalf 75, Silkstone 59, Ric Laycock 4-121), *Booth 380-4 (Midgley 79, Ric Laycock 78*, Rob Laycock 78, Saghir 52*): pts 10-3. *Copley 242-7 (Thorpe 70, A Rowles 65, Illingworth 5-95), SBCI 243-5 (T Wood 105*, S Wood 43): pts 4-11. Mytholmroyd 313-8 (Conway 67, Sutcliffe 67, Jamil 53), *Oxenhope 199 (Jackson 70, Harris 5-81, Cowens 4-17): pts 12-5. *Shelf Northowram HT 244 (Marshall 58, Swaine 47, Schofield 6-95, Hoyle 4-81), Sowerby St Peter’s 158 (Talbot 4-68): pts 12-5. Southowram 180 (Soames 5-54), *Thornton 183-2 (N Hutchinson 62*, Carnall 58, Soames 50): pts 3-12. *Warley 288-4 (Atkinson 124*, Syme 53), Bridgeholme 119 (Dunkley 40*, Azam 4-40): pts 12-2.
Points (after 11 games): Thornton 120, Booth 116, Warley 101, Mytholmroyd 93, Triangle 90, Oxenhope 84, Shelf Northowram Hedge Top 82, Sowerby St Peters 73, Southowram 66, SBCI 66, Copley 57, Bridgeholme 36.