There are plenty of times in the midst of a cricket season when you wish you had never played the sport. I think everyone has been there, and everyone has announced their retirement on a number of occasions. However, it's not until the reality sets in that you won't be taking the field to start the season that suddenly you remember how much you love the game, and everything it gives you.
So to get us through these testing times we will be featuring some memorable games from over the years and we will start off with the Priestley Shield second team semi final from 2010.
There are no ordinary games between Hanging Heaton and Baildon at second team level, which given we are about 15 miles apart it seems strange to consider us rivals, but I think both clubs would acknowledge that it is exactly what we are.
In 2010 both clubs were strong, and had been for a couple of seasons previously. Hanging Heaton were filled with steadfast second team cricketers such as Peter Byrne, Dave Lawrence and Howard Ellis, whereas Baildon's team was slightly different. We still had seasoned second teamers such as Jamie Abbott, James Butterfield and Matt Reed, but also a number of other players who were forging a strong reputation in second team cricket, after coming from other leagues, players such as captain Ross Todd and wicketkeeper Darren Wilson. In that period it would be hard to look beyond those two as an opening partnership in the league. Styles completely different, but yet yielded some remarkable opening partnerships.
Hanging Heaton were exceptionally difficult to beat, and even more so at Bennett Lane. It's a ground where you always feel will have a crowd watching and supporting the home team. This is testament to how the club is run, and it a community club in every sense of the word. The bar is always busy and they always bring local lads through their teams.
What made Hanging Heaton so difficult to play against and no more so than in 2010 was their fierce competitive nature. You would never go more than a couple of balls without a word being said when you were batting. Not everyone likes that, but it's part of the battle and shows you're playing a good level. Baildon had previously been accused of having a soft underbelly, but this was no longer the case. Ross Todd's captaincy had brought a different dimension to the team and this was a team who could 'mix it' with anyone, and on this given day it was proved in abundance.
Hanging Heaton started strongly on what was clearly an excellent batting service. Michael Royce an ex Baildon player, who never said a word pretty much went from the start, and hit a very brisk 26 to get the home side off to a flier. He was well supported by Howard Ellis who hit a steady 42, and at 97 for 1 things were not looking good for Baildon. This was further compounded by the loss of Brett Kinsey, who had limped off the field with a hamstring injury. Brett who had joined the club the previous year from Cheadle was a complete revelation, and a big part of the team. He was supremely fit, bowled fast and had the ability to take big wickets.
However, successful sides sometimes need people to stick their hand up and on this occasion Afzal Khan did just that. He took 2 for 24 in the middle overs to really help curb the run rate, and keep us in the game. Afzal was a reluctant bowler, but he was a very tidy bowler who gave little away. Jamie Abbott also took 3 for 37, and at 122 for 6 it looked as though Hanging Heaton could be bowled out for 150. But this wasn't to be the case, and good sides always have depth to their batting. Chris Goodaire hit an important 41, to go with his hundred against us earlier in the season and it enabled Hanging Heaton to post a daunting looking 200. I think it was far to say at half time Hanging Heaton were favourites.
Baildon took a different approach to chasing the target, and one which we'd adopted in previous rounds. Ross Todd dropped down the order, with Darren Wilson and Tom Forster opening. The idea was if we kept wickets in hand we had a lot of powerful players down the order who we could set the game up for. We started well reaching 59 before losing our first wicket, with Tom out for 33. Whilst it was a slow start, it gave us a platform to build. However, that was soon questioned as 2 more wickets fell in quick succession to leave us 62 for 3.
A partnership was needed and it came in the form of Ross Todd and Darren Wilson, who took the score to 112 before Darren was caught and bowled for 51. There was still a lot of work to do and overs were ticking by. However, this was where the merit of Ross dopping to 5 came in and he hit a brisk 48 and put us within sight of victory. Unfortunately he was unjustly run out (the less said the better) which fired the remaining batters up to ensure this job was completed. James Butterfield remained calm and used all his experience to guide us over the line, hitting a superb 30no. Tim Forster also hit a breezy 14 just at the right time. Victory was completed with 1.2 overs remaining. Probably the most relieved man was next man in Daniel Atkinson who was a complete bag of nerves.
The scenes at the end were incredible, with a full scale pitch invasion and evidence of an incredible team spirit and a bunch of players who raised the bar for second team cricket at Baildon.
2010 was the zenith. There were better days still to come, but we didn't know this at the time. Our next focus was on to a cup final against arguably a bigger rival, Yeadon CC.
Photo above: Baildon 2nd XI vs Yeadon 2nd XI - Priestley Shield Final 2010
Back row (left to right): Majid Hussain, Daniel Atkinson, Afzal Khan, Matt Reed, Chris Reynolds, James Butterfield.
Front Row: Jamie Abbott, Darren Wilson, Ross Todd (Captain), Tim Forster, Brett Kinsey, Tom Forster