Oakworth Cricket Club 2016 Third Xl
2016 was destined to be one in which under-13
players appeared frequently. The losses of senior players has mopped up
most of the older lads and fortunately the club had a strong under-13
unit. The arrival at Oakworth of Niall Saynor from the Midlands was an
added bonus in reinforcing the adult element to help the younger players
develop. The principal issue was the Captaincy. Alan Fothergill had
stood down after 5 years and Steve Powell was expected to step into the
breach. His surprise elevation to the First Xl continually threw the issue into the
ring throughout the season. Michael Davison and coaches Neil Bishop and Andrew Keslinke
occasionally took the reins but on the majority of occasions Taariq Khan
was at the helm.
All in all 32 players appeared in a season of constantly changing
line-ups in a Division merged with the remnants of Division Five in A &
The season opener vs Long Lee was washed out so a trip to pre-season favourites Barrowford was our first run out. Mike Davison took charge and after a competent opening display from Hamzah Khan with 26, only Nick Staton with 15 added significantly. The 76 all out took 40.3 overs of turgid batting. The hosts wrapped things up in 13.4 overs with our same two players each taking a wicket. Next up was a Home match at another likely title challenger in Sandy Lane with Steve Powell in the ranks as Captain. The good news was that our bowlers took all 10 Sandy Lane wickets, the bad news was that they rattled up 257 runs with 3 half-centurions. There was 2 wickets each for Graham Fothergill, Ollie Bishop, Lucas Keslinke and Bradley Powell. Five of our batsmen managed double-figures without reaching 20 in an all out 111 in 43.4 overs. It was a better performance with the bowlers showing emergent talent but the batting was of concern. Over at Glusburn, Akram Javed 81 and Mark Johnston 74 set them a great platform to go on to 233-6 whilst Corey Green picked up 3-48 in 12 overs. Batting at no 4 Hamzah made a mark with 62 runs and he shared a lengthy partnership with Graham Fothergill  to bring a respectable response on 184 all out in 36.5 overs. 0-1-3. The match at Crossflatts was washed out before hosting Hepworth & Idle. Our wickets again tumbled but the same two batsmen Hamzah Khan 41 and Graham Fothergill 93 again carried the batting to 173 all out under captaincy of Neil Bishop. The 10-man visitors were rolled over for 98 1n 26 overs with 2 wickets each for Harry Hollingsworth, Bilaal Khan and Hamzah Khan. 1-2-3 looked much better.
A tight but enjoyable match at Skipton CI brought Taariq Khan to the Captaincy and his opening stand brought him 26 runs and another 41 for son Hamzah Khan. The total of 93 all out seemed too little but a battling performance from the bowlers put the result in doubt. Three wickets for pace-man Bradley Powell and 2 from swing bowler Ollie Bishop backed up another brace from Hamzah. The CI side reached their 97-7 target thanks to hard-hitting Sefal Alam and Awais Nawaz but they knew they'd been in a match. 1-2-4 but signs of development. The Home match v Chatburn was awarded to Oaks as Chatburn could not raise a team. Then another wet day at Airedale CC. Batting first Niall Saynor in his second match for Oaks opened with 38 but a hugely entertaining 73-run 7th wicket partnership between Ollie Stell  and Bradley Powell  carried the total to a competitive 144-8, Asad Ejaz taking 4-30. But it wasn't to be as the rains won out yet again with Airedale on 13-1. 2-3-4 with 2 matches to to go to half-way. Over recent years there have been some close matches with Foulridge but this year it was different. The Noyna boys bashed their way to 289-9 with 119 coming from Zain Abbass but it did give opportunity for Lucas Keslinke and Ollie Bishop to showcase their bowling. Lucas claimed 3-23 in his 5 overs whilst Ollie added 3-36 in 6 overs as Taariq used 9 bowlers! Sadly the batting again regressed to a poor 59 all out with only Graham Fothergill making inroads with 27.
2-3-5 and next up was Sutton at Bronte Fields. Another 38 from Niall Saynor got us out of the blocks again and 39 from Bilaal Khan was welcome but once again only 23 from John Sharples was of note and we tallied just 126 in 44.4 overs. Sutton opener Andrew Fountain mad 72 and despite 2 wickets from Ollie Bishop Sutton coasted to victory at 127-2 in only 24.3 overs. So at the half-way mark we stood on 2-3-6 and resolved for a better second half.
A disappointing rain-off of the match with neighbours Haworth was next and so we moved on to the Cononley trip. At 30-4 there did not seem much improvement in the batting but Graham Fothergill  again did his thing and with backing from Ollie Stell  we eeked out a 129 total in 34.2 overs [Peter Hatton 5-27]. Ollie went on to take 2-26 and 2-24 from Nick Staton also helped but as expected Cononley went on to take the points at 134-6 but took 40.1 overs to do it. 2-3-7 was gloomy. The home match with Barrowford didn't suggest a win but much more solid batting enabled 137 all out. Vic Sunil took 4-31 and Marc Atkinson 3-18. This time the 'Ford took 26.1 overs to reach 139-3and we stood at 2-3-8. Over at Sandy Lane Niall Saynor hit pay-dirt with 69 runs but had little support in the 140 tally. We took 4 wickets before the inevitable 142-4 came up in 26.4 overs. The Home match with Glusburn was switched to Haworth West End and the 9-man visitors arrived with prospect of a close game. Niall Saynor continued his fine form with another 42 and 51 from Graham Fothergill provided a good foundation and we reached 162 in 43.4 overs although Alan Coney did his best to halt our progresswith 4-43 . Opener Richard Parkin hit a good 49 but the bowling of Dhanyaal Ahmed with 4-18 swung the match our way as Glusburn made just 113-7. At last another win at 3-3-9.
If we hoped the win would galvanise our efforts at Hepworth-Idle we were sadly mistaken. Only 28 from Hamzah Khan featured in a dismal 60 all out after Dale Wood captured 6-17. Dhanyaal Ahmed again did well with 2-23 but 62-4 came up in only 9.3 overs. 3-3-10. The much awaited battle of the Third Xls at Bronte Fields offered us another chance to progress and we took it with both hands. We didn't though bat very well making just 115 with cousins Bilaal Khan  and Hamzah Khan  doing the bulk of our scoring. With the ball it was a different story and Uwais Khan really stepped up to the mark with 4-17 and his brother Hamzah Khan applied 3-39 to have the Congs back in the hutch at 95 all out.
4-3-10 with 5 matches left. The first of these at Chatburn was another lost to the elements so now 3-5-10. With selection getting more fraught due to lack of player availability the 3rds faced Airedale at Home with only 9 men. At the last minute the match was switched to Airedale. Only Bilaal made double figures in devastating slump to 38 all out in 27 putrid overs [Mohammed Hanif 4-4]. Uwais took a wicket but Airedale knocked them off in 8.2 overs just 50 balls. 4-5-11. Yet another rain-off vs Foulridge plunged the mood in the last few weeks to an all-time low. 4-6-11. Better times were hoped-for at Sutton and arguably the best match of the season ensued. Former Silsden player Stuart Tillotson opened up with 32 for Sutton before no 4 George Blackwell built a smart 43 to carry Sutton to 76-3. A switch of ends for our young bowlers paid dividends as Uwais Khan added further to his growing reputation with a superb all-bowled hat-trick to depress the Sutton scorecard to 76-6 whilst Blackwell remained resolute. For Uwais it wasn't his last contribution as he went on to take 3 more wickets with his left-arm 'chinamen' leg-spin. His return a fabulous 6-21. Blackwell was finally removed by Uwais brother Hamzah at 130 all out in 41.2 overs. All we needed now was to bat well. The 2016 batting rock had been Niall Saynor and he again began to dominate the match. 3 partners fell by the wayside before Hamzah Khan signed in and the pair engineered a match-winning stand. Hamzah ended on 41 no whilst Niall fell for 60 with the scores level before we took the points on 136-4 in just 27.4 overs. 5-5-11 and feelings were much more of contentedness. Finally after yet more stress in fielding a team, the side turned out with a strange-looking 10 men team for Captain Neil Bishop for the traditional friendly final match with Haworth, who also had 10 men. It was to be former First Xl player Michael Thompson who returned after many years out of the game to take 4-21 with his left-arm pacers. Nick Staton showed good form with 2-24 whilst Charlie Shimmin top-scored with 29 and Will Yildiz pitched in 27. Haworth closed on 104-9 in only 24.2 overs. But it took just 15.2 overs for our 9 wickets to fall, 4-11 for Yildiz and 3-17 for Graham Aldred with 2-11 for young Shimmin. The surprise batting package was junior coach Andy Keslinke's 18 including 2 enormous sixes at number 8 as we posted 45. So the season drew to its close with a 5-5-12 record and 3-2-6 second half, an improvement on the first half.
At home Thirds picked up 4 wins [inc 1 awarded] and 4 defeats with 3 draws [all washouts]. Away from our middens the story was 1-2-8 in a year with a very young set of players and plagued by availability issues. Our Home teams amassed 862 runs in its 8 knocks whilst losing 68 wickets and elsewhere the outcome was 1,066 runs for the loss of 91 wickets in the 10 trips to the crease.
The team was stronger at home, scoring marginally better. The net difference in scoring rates at Bronte Fields was 8.0 per wicket [20.7-12.7] whilst on opposition territory it was 10.5 [22.2-11.7] so there is an obvious added deficiency when playing outside Oakworth. However youngsters in the side are still very much on the lower part of the development curve and preservation of wickets has not yet been fully inculcated. Run-scoring was expected to be the principal deficiency and without solid regular scores from Graham Fothergill and Niall Saynor the batting would have relied almost solely on 15-year-old Hamzah Khan. But there was a distinct lack of support from experienced players beyond these two, as players were busy filling in for un-availabilities in the 2nd & 1st Xls. As always the team performance is a direct function of the experience available to the team. This year it came only from Graham and Niall.
For Hamzah Khan it was a good year with 334 runs to his name, a best of 62, his only fifty. He has qualified for the league averages on 22.27 and lies in 15th place. Well done Hamzah. There is much, much more to come. However his reluctance to play up in the 2nd Xl has probably held his development back as the higher quality opposition is exactly what he needs now; to face better bowlers. Second in the list was Graham Fothergill whose 319 runs came from just 8 innings, his best that great 93, one of four half-centuries for him. Third place went to new boy Niall Saynor with 281 runs [best 69] also from 8 knocks and he got better and better as the year went by and he settled to his new northern surroundings. Taariq Khan had volunteered to take the Captaincy when others failed to come forward and that role may well have held back his ability to contribute more with the bat. He tallied 153 runs with a best of just 27 despite his propensity to occupy the crease and a modest average of 10.6 ensued. Next came the first of the under-13s with Bilaal Khan. This boy is the 2016 u-13 Cricketer-of-the-Year in UAJCA and the Third XI has not yet seen the best of his talents by a long chalk. His obvious talent is let down by a laid-back attitude and a tendency to drift. His 139 runs came from 16 innings with his best a 39 score. His average was 8.69. In sixth place came Bradley Powell with 106 runs from 10 knocks. His 40 score at Airedale was a joy to watch but his season was plagued by poor shot selection and un-necessary dismissals. Again he has much more to offer as he finished runner-up to Bilaal in the u-13 league. Ollie Stell added 77 and keeper Lucas Keslinke 49 whilst late season returnee Dhanyaal Ahmed managed 42. Ollie Bishop batted better than his 39 runs tally shows but needs to bat more in his manner at Sutton. The big disappointments were Corey Green, who went AWOL after 6 matches and Nick Staton who failed to build on his very promising 2015, possibly due to non-cricket distractions. Uwais Khan is still building his technique with the bat and his value comes from his bowling. These 13 were the 'regular' players but a further 19 also turned out without major impact with the bat.
The bowling attack was very much based on the younger players and which shone periodically as perhaps could have been expected with six u13 players in the squad in their first year of senior cricket. The leading wicket taker was Uwais Khan, a real mystery bowler of huge promise, who will without doubt blossom year by year as he learns the value of line & length. His 13 wickets from only 49 overs were hard won and indeed 11 came in the later matches. His 6-21 at Sutton included a fantastic hat-trick. He shared top spot with his older brother Hamzah Khan who bowls with pace but is short of experience against quality batsmen and consequently does not bowl as well as he could, witness his best of just 3-39 from his 106 overs. His strike rate is good  but an economy of 5.4 needs attention, evidence of too many 'buffet balls'. Third place went to Ollie Bishop with 12 wickets from 56 overs. Ollie bowls a great line & length with late swing and on his day is difficult to get away. His best was 3-36 with an acceptable strike rate of 28 and economy of 4.22. His development is exactly where it should be and he needs to be used more often next year and his returns will rocket. Bradley Powell, Dhanyaal Ahmed and Bilaal Khan all captured 8 wickets, Bradley from 19 overs, Dhanyaal from 23 and Bilaal from 47. Bradley and Dhanyaal have exceptionally good strike rates and with more overs will pick up a lot more scalps. Bilaal without doubt disappointed. His pacy off-spin sometimes included late swing before more predictable movement off the pitch. For a spin bowler he has yet to learn how to contain a batsman and needs to vary his modes of attack much more. Nevertheless there is immense talent when he gets it right. He just needs to get it right more often. Nick Staton's 5-149 and Corey Green's 4-147 were huge disappointments but cannot be improved without more appearances. Finally the bowling of Lucas Keslinke [18 overs, 6 wickets] was well on target before his conversion to wicket-keeper.
Hamzah Khan was comfortably our best fielder with 7 catches, whilst Nick Staton showed expertise with 4 catches in much fewer appearances. Wicket-Keeping victims tallied just 6 with 3 each to Taariq and Lucas.
The team will now be relegated to Division Four B and so fixtures will be a little easier next year and the players will be a little older and hopefully wiser. So a better out-turn must be on the cards for 2017. Hopefully Graham Fothergill will rescind his decision to 'retire' and Corey Green will return from exile in Steeton and Keighley. We need to see more availability from Nick Staton although his college work in Shropshire may again be a hindrance to that. New players will arrive from the junior ranks in Ellis Marshall, Subhaan Ahmed, Ellis Brown and Kalem Ogden and if Lewis Brown gains County recognition he may get the 'green card' route into senior cricket as an under-12. On the 'loss' side Hamzah must play in the Second Xl and if Uwais starts the season as well as he finished 2016 he too will follow fairly quickly.
The Captaincy issue needs a permanent resolution. Whether Taariq Khan is invited to continue or a more experienced player [Steve Powell perhaps?] steps up remains to be seen. For Lucas, Bradley, Bilaal, Uwais, Ollie and the new players there will be plenty of chances to shine but they need support from adults. Hopefully Niall Saynor has enjoyed his stint and will again turn out alongside Taariq. Ollie Stell and Paul Carter may be able to provide more input and of course Steve Powell's role may be vital in the overall picture.
With a team such as Steve, Taariq, Niall, Paul, Ollie and Dhanyaal providing the experience and Lucas, Bradley, Ollie, Uwais, Bilaal and Subhaan as the regular juniors with Ellis, Kalem and Henry Booth as back-ups, we can look forward to some happy Saturday afternoons. Places for Corey, Graham and Nick would be available if they are.