If the forecasted rain today (Friday) does hold off – we face the prospect of going into a weekend having had little to no rain all week, the first such occasion this year. I’ve been playing at Jenny Lane and Belmont (Sandals to you young ones) for 38 years and I’ve never known a season start like this. The persistent mid-week rain has made life so hard for groundstaff across our region, it’s a wonder we’ve played any cricket! Dave McDermott and Andy Norton have been doing a sterling job so far but it hasn’t been easy – we’ve had a lot of games to get on, with 5 senior sides, 5 junior sides and an evening league team and have had to cope with a broken roller, sodden outfields and grass growing quicker than Tom Dixon’s strike rate.
It’s fair to say that availability has been a challenge this season for the fourth team, we took the field with only 8 men last week, however in a further illustration of the ironies of cricket we look to be going into this weekend with a surplus of players! Hopefully Andy can take off his groundsman’s cap and enjoy wearing his skipper’s hat this weekend as he takes a full strength team over to face Mayfield at one of the quirkiest grounds in the Dales Council. It’s a busy weekend for the fours as they then find themselves at Jenny Lane on Sunday taking on Cookridge in the Cawthorne Cup. Hopefully they can carry on the momentum that was picked up in last Sunday’s defeat of Leeds Gladiators where 14 year old Josh Hannan narrowly missed out on his first senior 50, falling for 47. The opposition were somewhat caught by surprise when they brought the field in for what they thought was a ‘young lad playing his first game’, who then proceeded to biff it out of the ground – losing the ball in the process!
After the early finish in the third team game (we won the first half, lost the second), I was able to get back to HQ early and witness Jamin and Umar rescue a game the ones looked in danger of losing. It was so exciting to see a pair of opening bowlers come back on and polish off an opposition – the near capacity crowd (about 50) went absolutely nuts at the fall of the last wicket. My sources tell me this led to a quiet night of hot chocolates in the clubhouse. Let’s hope it’s the start of big things for Kev’s side as this Saturday they travel across Bradford to take on a Cleckheaton side currently sat in 4th position in the league. If our middle order can find some form and help the side kick on from the starts provided by the top three, we stand a chance of improving on last year’s final standing. Like the fourth team, the ones also have a double weekend, taking on Yeadon on Sunday. The First division hasn’t really taken shape yet, in part caused by the forfeiture of a number of Brighouse’s games and Sandal’s issues with their outfield, so it will be a number of weeks before we see a true table start to take shape. Whether anyone can keep pace with big-spending Undercliffe will remain to be seen.
Match Sponsor: Pauline Mottram
The third team have another home fixture at the Belmont Superdome, where both teams will be hoping that the outfield will be shorter than the first time they met (we played Pudsey St Lawrence at Belmont a couple of Sunday’s ago when the outfield resembled Dan (Mini) Metcalfe’s back garden). The three’s mix of promising youth and grizzled experience will be hoping to get back to winning ways after crumbling to 39 all out against Thornbury last time out.
Match Sponsor: Cap and Collar
Finally, we turn to the second team and the visit of Cleckheaton to Jenny Lane. This match holds special significance for one of our longest serving players, the one club legend that is Jamie Abbott. Not to put any sort of curse on him, but Jamie now requires only 2 wickets to overtake the record of Pete Byrne (Hanging Heaton) and become the leading second team wicket taker in the history of the Bradford League. It would be fitting for ‘Lolipop/J/The Dungeon Master/Elmer Fudd/Shandyman/White-wine spritzer’ to name just a few of the nicknames he’s accumulated over the years, to reach the achievement on a sunny day at Jenny Lane (“Enjoy the sunshine”), a ground that also witnessed the achievements of two other famous Baildon spin bowlers, John Marshall and Mushtaq Ahmed. The whole club will be very proud of Jamie as and when he passes Pete’s record and I’m sure he will go on to hold it for a long time, until perhaps, his young apprentice Josh Capper catches him up! Jamie will have to watch out though – Pete Byrne has been spotted returning to action for New Farnley’s third team in the Dales Council, proving the old adage that nothing spurs on a Hanging Heaton player more than seeing Baildon do well!
Match Sponsor: Darren Wilson
James Butterfield (about 80 odd wickets for Baildon CC, still time yet)