Second XI Oakworth Cricket Club 2020

As for the First Xl, the 2020 season was the strangest on record, impacted severely by the world-wide Covid-19 Pandemic. The disease reached these shores in February but changed the lives of everyone across the planet. A 'normal season' was on the cards and indeed the league committees had prepared a fixture programme. But Government intervention and a series of safety precautions, followed by National or local lockdowns blew  those plans out of the water. It was to be Saturday 18th July before the 2nd Xl got into action. And even then it was curtailed to 35-overs per innings, each of which was dissected by frequent hand-sanitisation breaks. The traditional Divisional structure was abandoned and more localised 'Covid' groups were formulated to minimise travel.

Oakworth lls played Skipton CI First Xl in their first fixture and were inserted by the visitors. The CDCL 'loan' scheme remained in force and helped many teams ensure a full Xl could be fielded. Oakworth were no exception. Warren Allitt, who lives in Oakworth but plays at Bradford & Bingley, opened the innings with Charlie Raby and together they produced a stand of 29 when Warren was bowled for 22 by a rapid Azhar Iqbal. New recruit Josh Kiteley lasted only 4 balls as the ring-rust hadn't entirely been shed. With the score on 37, Charlie too was a third victim for Iqbal, making a solid 10 runs. Highly-rated Junior James Powell chipped in 13 and fell at 50-4. New signing Rob Gumbley combined with Captain Michael Scarborough and added 25 runs before Rob was bowled for 11 by Danny Iqbal [Azhar' brother]. This brought Steve Powell to partner Michael and the experienced duo almost doubled the team score with Steve scoring 37 including 5 fours and a six in an impressive innings. The score was 147-6 and the innings ended at 147-7 after a duck for Bilaal Khan to leave Michael not out on 44. Azhar ended with 4-12 from his speedy 9 overs and his brother Danny with 3-34 from his 8. An early wicket for Sajjad Razak was a good sign but Henderson [30] and Martin Chisnall [42] proved difficult to dislodge. But the introduction of Charlie Raby leg-spin created more optimism as the CI batsmen struggled to pick him. Sensing a possible win Michael brought himself into the attack and his wicket-to-wicket bowling brought him a brace of wickets. Charlie returned 4-37 and the match went to the last over. Danny Iqbal and Alex Horsfield eaked towards the target despite everything Oakworth could throw at them. Iqbal settled it with a boundary and CI were victorious with just 1 ball to spare. But what a great effort from our lads.

Hopes were high that the performance at wide Lane could be translated into a win at Bradley, another Frst Xl, against whom a thrilling last wicket win had been won in 2019. Bradley inserted our boys and Niall Saynor and Bilaal Khan took first knocks. After the loss of Bilaal for just 2 at 7-1, Niall and new lad Liam Humphreys paired up well. Niall proved the more aggressive but Liam, after an 8 year absence, began to show signs of a high class technique. They added 33 runs with Liam out caught for a good-looking 10. James Powell joined Niall and the runs continued although the rate of progress was steady until Niall fell at 69-3 after a sterling knock of 32 which included five 4s and a six. James departed soon afterwards for 13 caught behind after a solid 30-ball innings. Charlie Raby and Michael Scarborough came together but Charlie made just 3 and at 83-5 the innings could go either way. Steve Powell made only 1 to leave the team tally at 93-6. The Captain chipped in 17, caught off Toby Meynell at 99-7 as the innings was fading on a difficult strip. It was new lad Josh Kiteley who saw us on to a better level with a mixture of aggression and caution for 17 precious runs. Sajjad and Paul Carter each added 2 runs as the innings subsided to 127-9 after the full 35 overs. Zain Naeem had been the Bradley bowling kingpin with 4-33 whilst Toby Meynell proved economical with 3-28. It took our attack just 19.3 overs to see off the Bradley reply which declined to 56 all out. Leading the blitz was James Powell who grabbed 5-14 in 6 excellent overs, four of them clean bowled, beaten for pace. The back up came from another junior in Charlie Raby whose leggies again proved troublesome and delivered 3-12. A further 2 wickets came from Josh Kiteley in a satisfying performance in only his second match in 8 years! The win by 71 runs was stunning although some mention must be made of Bradley opener Chris Kimberley who carried his bat for 36  from 57 balls.

Our Home matches with Gargrave and Cononley were both suspended by the League in view of rising Covid infections in Pendle.

Nevertheless our next match was also at Home to yet another First Xl from Thornton-in-Craven. With Mark Laycock in their side there were memories of his impressive display in 2019 to dispel. We elected to bat and ran into an excellent opening spell from David Wolfe to find ourselves at 11-3 with Steve Cox, Niall and Charlie all back on the bench. James Powell and Michael Scarborough began a recovery and enhanced the score-line to 33-4 when James  holed out for 12 off an impressive Liam Walter. Wickets fell at regular intervals but our Captain picked off six boundaries on the way to a sterling 41, also a victim of Walter. We did manage to bat the full 35 overs but our rate of scoring was dilatory, admittedly on a very difficult surface. Our total was 90-9. Liam Walter was the tormentor with 4-25. With former Oakworth junior Ollie Bishop in or ranks on loan from Haworth, he opened the bowling and took 2 early wickets and returned a great 2-11 from his 7 overs. At 15-2 Oakworth felt they were back in the match. But that man Liam Walter joined Mark Laycock in a 38-run partnership to pull the West Craven side back to favourites. Walter was winkled out by Charlie Raby and 4 runs later he had a second scalp [Ibbotson] at 57-4. But in a blast of all our Yesterdays, aged Malcolm Holt strode forth and with Laycock completely defied our efforts. The pair added 36 runs to take the win at 93-4 in the 29th over. Laycock again couldn't be kept out of the limelight as he finished on 36 no with the greying hero, Holt on 15no. Charlie had 2-20 [5 overs].

The next two matches were both abandoned due to the weather [at Skipton CI and at Home to Bradley]

Top of the group were Gargrave and our visit to their vast ground  didn't disturb their position at the top. Electing to bat, the speedy aggressive bowling from the Gargrave attack of McEneaney, Beckwiths George and John, and Joe Wood proved too good as only Ellis Marshall [11] reached double figures. An all out 43 total was not in the game plan but credit to the Gargrave bowlers, who in a normal season should be able to gain them promotion to the top Division. Determined to take some of them out before the likely loss Sajjad Razak hit top form with 3-19 whilst Jake Keslinke also picked up his first wicket of the season. But sure enough the total was too small to defend and Gargrave reached 47-4 in 10.2 overs.

The trip to Cononley would see us face yet another First Xi in a really testing year, particularly for the younger members of the side. Skipper Michael inserted the Cononley lads, viewing the outfield grass length as likely to restrict their scoring. An amazing opening spell from Jake Keslinke didn't bring him a wicket but figures of 5-3-2-0 were hugely acceptable and contributed greatly to restriction of the Cononley score rate. Opener Scott Brook led a charmed life and proved a rock at the top of the order. The two Charlies, Raby and Shimmin toiled hard with the ball without reward whilst Sajjad was also frugal but gained just one wicket. Captain Michael brought himself and nephew Jack Davison into the attack after 23 overs and his third ball brought success with the wicket of Parker [22]. In the 27th over Michael dismissed the dangerous Andrew Starkey for 6 with a smart stumping from Jack Cawood. The last ball of the 30th over brought a wicket for Jack who had hitherto bowled really well but without luck. At 70-4 and just 5 overs remaining a score below 100 seemed fairly certain. Michael Scarborough went on to take four more wickets and posted 6-11 in 41 balls. Opener Brook was the stubborn obstacle and his 31 [75 balls] was one of his six. Jack went on to take two more to end with 3-12 and Cononley all out for 90 with 1 ball left. But the impressive form of the last 7 or 8 overs didn't translate into the batting and we found ourselves at 12-4. First teamer Lucas Keslinke hit a couple of fours and a six but his innings lasted only 13 balls. 28-5 became 34-6 and an uphill task would be needed for a win. Jack added 15 at no 8 but when he fell, the score was 55-9. Our 56 all out was well shy of the Cononley total, whose Captain Andrew Starkey had revenge for his dismissal by Michael, taking the catch to have Michael out for a duck.

The last match was away at Thornton-in-Craven who had proved difficult to overcome in the last 3 seasons. Thornton opted to bat on a strange looking surface and lost skipper Ian Holden in the first over to an on-fire Jake Keslinke. Liam Walter was again a stubborn resistor but having made 15 he took a single too many and was run out at 27-2. The remaining opener was Laycock, but this time not Mark but relative Steve, who was joined by Mark for the 3rd wicket. The pairing added 17 runs when Mark was bowled by Sajjad Razak for 5. The major stand of the innings came from no 5 David Wolfe, who rode his luck and the still patiently resolute Steve Laycock. Wolfe's 36 ball stay brought him 17 runs and he fell caught by Lucas off the bowling of Harry Hollingsworth, with his partner Laycock on 49 no. The score was 93-4 but the overs were fast disappearing. Harry picked up another and the returning Jake Keslinke finally dismissed Steve Laycock for a quality 56, stumped by keeper Jack Cawood. A late flurry from no 8 Bradley Walker [11] carried Thornton to 117-6 . Harry returned 2-13 and Jake 2-28. Niall Saynor and Lucas Keslinke [6] were the openers but Lucas was out early at 11-1. Niall teamed up with Ellis Marshall and took the fight to Thornton. The Home side used six bowlers to try and separate the pair but failed as Niall tallied 45 no from his 74 balls whilst a very impressive Ellis tallied 56 from his 73. The youngster' innings included nine flowing fours and two lofted sixes. Niall also compiled well with five 4s and a six. 118-1 in 25.5 overs was a wonderful conclusion to the year and was thoroughly deserved.

2021 sign posts

The truncated year brought 2 wins, both very comfortable although at Thornton the team had included First teamers Harry, Lucas and Ellis. Nevertheless the heavy losses at Gargrave and Cononley were countered by a well-balanced squad featuring the experience of Michael, Steve P, Niall and Sajjad with Jack C, Charlie S. Liam, Josh, Charlie R, Jake and James all progressing apace. The unavailability of Uwais and Bilaal Khan didn't help selection but did allow inclusion of First teamers or loanees when required. Rob Gumbley made only one appearance and then wasn't seen again so he may or may not be available in 2021. James may well find a regular slot in the First Xi with Liam and the two Charlies also knocking on that door. Its likely that Jake along with Elis Jones and Jacob Davies may feature as regulars in 2021 with Waleed Raja, Asim Khan and Akeel Umar also in the picture. Josh Kiteley needs to play more regularly and if he does his place will be assured and his abilities will enhance. Much will depend on how many First Xls find themselves in Division Three but whilst a title challenge may not materialise in 2021 that may not be long in making its appearance.

average of 13.14