Upbeat Bridgeholme counting down to opener against Stones

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Bridgeholme CC are counting down the weeks to the 2015 season after a memorable last 12 months.

The Eastwood club’s first and second teams are back in the middle section of the Foster’s Halifax League and will run a third team in the Sunday Section for the first time.

Stones will provide the opposition for Bridgeholme’s first and seconds on Saturday, April 18 with the firsts at home on the opening day.

“Mr Bridgeholme CC” Keith Hudson, as well as overseeing several improvements at the ground this winter, has also got together with others at the club to produce a review of the 2014 campaign.

They believe it was probably the best season in the club’s 62-year history and members came back from the league’s annual dinner in November with several trophies, including those for the Division Two first and second teams’ titles.

The firsts went through the year unbeaten in the league with new skipper Chris Kibble leading a young team well, his enthusiasm shining through from the start.

Bridgeholme batted all the way down to 11 and had five quality second division bowlers. Kibble topped the averages, regularly and unselfishly batting himself down the order.

Bridgeholme had been confident of bouncing back from relegation in the 2013 season, helped by the return of classy all rounder Nazakat Ali after a couple of years away. He averaged 31.2 with the bat and took 27 wickets at 9.0.

After a comfortable start, Bridgeholme knew they faced a crunch game against Cullingworth on May 31. The league newcomers were also undefeated but Cullingworth’s batsmen were blown away in 26 overs and Bridgeholme won by eight wickets.

There were a couple of wobbles along the way to the title but Bridgeholme always had one top order batsman in strong form, whether it was Bobby Fielden (413 runs), James Hudson (279 runs) or Yasir Mahmood (256 runs).

Saj Mahmood, Muhammed Asif, Naz Ali and spinner Oliver Challis all averaged 15 or below with the ball. They helped to make it easy for the Bridgeholme batsmen - the highest score the team had to chase was 167 against Stones, who were also promoted.

The future is bright with James Hudson, Bobby and Danny Fielden and Challis all established in the first team and more young players seemingly on their way through from the seconds.

First team batting: B.Fielden 413 runs at average of 41.3; C.Kibble 241 at 40.16; N.Ali 156 at 31.2; J.Hudson 279 at 27.9; O.Challis 195 at 27.85; Y.Mahmood 256 at 23.27; D.Fielden 111 at 15.85; M.Asif 74 at 14.8; M.Basharat 138 at 12.54; S.Mahmood 37 at 12.33.

Bowling: Y.Mahmood 5 wickets at average of 8.4; N.Ali 27 at 9.0; S.Mahmood 37 at 9.13; O.Challis 19 at 14.47; M.Asif 22 at 15.31; I.Davy-Day 7 at 17.57.

Quick bowler Oliver Davy-Day, in his second year as skipper, played a prominent role in the seconds’ success.

He had a side combining youth and experience, which was bolstered by Keith Hudson, who had stepped down after opening the batting for the firsts for 25 years.

The three youthful Davy-Day brothers plus Zack Harris, Hassan Mahmood, Thomas Stansfield and Ikram Mahmood gave the team its energy.

Simon Harris, Gary Wilson, Zaheer Abbas provided the experience while Ahmed Hussain and Hudson added to a team full of potential.

The accuracy of swing bowler Mustafa Hussain was crucial throughout the season and it was only a misinterpretation of the qualifications that cost him the league prize.

Hostile left-armer Oliver Davy-Day missed second place in similar circumstances.

Hudson topped the league averages, hitting three centuries and amassing 741 runs from 16 games at an average of 61.4. Zaheer Abbas also averaged over 50.

Andy Thomas didn’t play many games last year but took four wickets in four balls to gain one unlikely victory.

The seconds looked to have blown their chance of silverware when losing a couple of crucial games. However, on the last day of the season Greetland lost at Bradshaw and Bridgeholme beat Luddenden Foot to clinch the club’s title double.

Second team batting: K.Hudson 741 runs at average of 61.43, Z.Abbas 287 at 57.4, I.Mahmood 208 at 34.67, A.Hussain 275 at 34.38, H.Mahmood 379 at 29.15.

Bowling: M.Hussain 27 wkts at 13.7, O.Davy-Day 26 at 12.77, Z.Harris 20 at 13.50, S.Harris 11 at 15.73, I.Davy-Day 14 at 18.07