Oakworth Cricket Club

The 2015 season 


The last two seasons had seen our Oakworth club hold silverware and there were high hopes of more in 2015, It turned out to be an absolute avalanche.

The 2015 Xl squad had no new additions but the Second Xl squad was boosted by the returns of Ricky Linden and Chris Mooney.  However the notable absentee was Matt House who had been persuaded to return to Olicanians in the Aire-Wharfe for family reasons. His loss posed questions for the remaining bowlers to stand up to the plate and make up his 40-50 wicket haul.

The 2015 season would surely see heavy challenges from Champions Ingrow St Johns, Haworth, Bingley Congs and Crossflatts. The Second Xl were confident of an even better season than their eighth place finish in 2014; that though remained be a tough ask.

Our first test was a journey to far-flung Chatburn, who had gained promotion. It was 1992 when Oakworth last made the journey. It proved rewarding as Steve Filkin answered the question with four of the first five wickets and a return of 4-19 from 10 overs. Jack Davison cleaned up the tail with 3-10 from the 23 balls he twirled. The home side couldn't handle the bowling and mustered just 60 all out on their bow in Division One. A tricky start had Jack Hainsworth struggling for 16 balls before copping his duck but ever reliable Robert Hopkinson kicked in 38no and we had the points in 20.2 overs at 62-3.

The fireworks from Junaid Khan in 2014 had propelled Barrowford to an early season win at Cure Hill and he was in the side again in early season. Once again he turned a decent start into a final tally of substance with three 4s and seven 6s in his 61. Adam Smith had been promoted to Matt's opening role and he emerged superbly with 4-79 from 14.2 overs. The 234 score would require some hard work form our batsmen. With 3 top order men back in the clubhouse and only 10 on the board, that work would need a little luck on the way to boot. At 132-7 and 102 still needed the task looked forlorn. But firstly Adam with 34 and then 49 from an amazing knock by Steve Filkin dragged us on towards the target. Steve ran out of partners with our score on a creditable 208 given the start. We had been undermined again by a Khan, not Junaid but Karim Khan who grabbed 6-37.

The weather took a turn for the worst as it often does in May and the next 2 matches [Foulridge & Haworth Road] were drawn without a ball bowled. 1-2-1 was not a start we planned.

So we went into defence of our Wynn Cup at home to Foulridge with only two innings under the belt. The Filkin-Smith partnership again blossomed with Adam taking 4-25 and Steve 3-37. The attack was proving well up to the task so far. Foulridge crumpled to 72 all out and Jack H and Robert knocked them off in 74 balls for a 10-wicket margin, Jack on 48no.

Our next away match was at Shires Lane against old foes Embsay. Jack and Robert again got us a off to a good start and though no-one went on to make 50 a solid batting display took us to 198-9. Embsay youngsters Ben Stockton 4-49 and Ben Airey 3-29 had ensured we didn't get away from them. Adam, relishing his new role, ripped out another 4-34 and Embsay fell well enough short on 145 all out, another youngster, UAJCA cricketer-of-the-year Elliot Stockton top scored for them with 52. The following week promised another trip this time to Ryshworth Park and the prospect of a harder day's work. Having lost the toss and again batting first the scorecard mirrored that at Embsay with 201 the final tally and again no-one scoring more than 34 [Jack Davison]. Jim O'Hara's 13 overs had been the stumbling block as he took 5-43.This time Steve Filkin led the bowling returns with 3-17 in 11.3 incredibly controlled overs. Things were going very well until no 8 Vikram Bakshi entered the fray and his 68 changed the complexion. But it was too late to overhaul Oaks tally and the 'Flatts ended at 170-9, 31 adrift. 3-2-1 after 6 looked so much better.

Back at familiar Wide Lane Oakworth again batted first against Riddlesden and the first of a string of records tumbled. Between the openers Gareth Marshall and Jack Hainsworth, 24 fours and 9 sixes flowed from their bats before Gareth was caught for a best yet 143. Jack remained resolute and finished the job with the skipper. His tally was 111no and the Oakworth posting - a mere 312-1. The opening stand of 267 shattered the previous Oakworth record of 211 set in 2002 by Steve Hartley and Robert Hopkinson. The Riddlesden reply lasted just 28.3 overs and fell apart at 105 all out. The cushion of so many runs gave a chance to Jack Davison to show his leg-break skills and he had 6-28 in just 10.3 overs of quality wobblers.

Promoted Sutton batted first at Royd Hill and opener Matt Walker proved immovable until unluckily removed lbw by Oaks skipper Michael Scarborough on 97 as one of his 4-29. Nevertheless The Sutton side posted 196-6 to show they could be a force in the top Division. An Oaks opening stand of 85 showed the magnitude of the task and Gareth again went on to a consecutive century with 104no. The skipper added 47no to his fine day's graft. The boys reached 198-2 in 34.3 overs. 5-2-1 and we were now cooking on full gas pressure. A tougher fight at Cure Hill was reckoned for our match with Bingley Congs, and that would be followed by Haworth and ISJ. But for the third match in a row we had a centurion, this time it was Jack Hainsworth with 118 at the head of a monstrous 291 all out. Michael had added 80 to the cause, combining in a 179 stand with Jack. For the Congs exciting young quick bowler Harry Greenhalgh picked up 6-91 amidst the carnage from our batsmen.  The expected challenge from Congs never really took off and they posted just 180 to be all out in 32.1 overs, their Aussie signing Tom Mackenzie making just 2, bowled by Steve Filkin. Neighbours Haworth had also made a good start to the season but had fallen foul of league rules and had been penalised by points deduction. But at West Lane they would pose a stiff test for now high flying Oaks. A second wicket stand of 51 from Gareth and 18 year-old Ben Howell promised much but not for the first time, Jamie Rowell scuppered our knock at a modest 138 with 7-38 despite 60 from in-form Gareth. The Haworth wickets just wouldn't fall despite tight bowling Jamie 68no and Dan Trowers 48no took the home side to 139-1 to inflict a heavy second defeat on Oaks for 2015.

The final match of the first half of the season was to be at Cure Hill against the Champions Ingrow St Johns and it was greeted with a wonderfully sunny day. The Johnnies batted first and stands of 47 and 72 gave them a great platform for a high score. Farhan Abassi took 60 from 53 balls as the highest scorer but it was the lower order which wagged furiously to take ISJ from 157-6 to 253 all out off 259 balls. Battle was engaged but was played in excellent spirit between the two leading teams. Michael returned 3-52 and young Ben 3-67 trying to stem the flow which had seen Adam and Steve hit out of the attack. An opening stand of 53, followed by another of 40 got Oaks riposte underway in rapid style. The fall of Jack Hainsworth for 78 [only 48 balls] was a blow but pleasingly a maiden First Xl fifty [55] from Ben Howell proved a major element in what followed. At 96-3 Oakworth had every chance of victory and Robert Hopkinson batting as well as ever teamed up with Ben to add 132 runs to carry the team to the brink. After the wicket of Ben, Lewis Wrathall was run out and Adam Smith perished after just 2 balls. Then disastrously Robert too was run out for 85 as we pushed on and the 45-over deadline approached. Cool heads were called for at 249-7 as we entered the last over. After 5 balls the scores were level and at least 2 points in the bag. But cool as a cucumber Jack Davison whacked the ball for a boundary to claim all 3 points for jubilant Oaks. The ISJ boys took defeat with grace and congratulated all the Oakworth players before staying to enjoy the evening sunshine. So the first 11 matches had culminated in a 7-2-2 return and we still headed the Division.

Second Division Long Lee were our next Wynn Cup opponents as Haworth West End had earlier conceded. Long Lee skipper Mark Day carried his bat for 81 at Golden View in a 155 all out. In recent weeks the batsmen had featured strongly but Ben Howell grasped a piece of glory with his quick bowling, taking 4-14 in 11.4 terrific overs. Solid consistent batting carried us to 156 off just 165 balls but we did lose 5 wickets. Our semi-final opponents were to be Haworth at Cure Hill, another pulse rate elevator!!

There was early wickets for Chatburn as Andrew Booth and Josh Dean each picked up 3 wickets. Gareth Marshall opened with 47 but the wickets only allowed Adam Smith centre stage and after only 23 balls his personal tally stood incredibly at 73, having smashed 10 fours and 4 sixes. Oaks tallied 252 all out. Booth added 34 to his earlier fine bowling but his team tallied just 136, curtailed by 5-37 from Jack Davison. At the Bullholme neither of the Khans were in evidence and the Red Rose batting wilted at a paltry 130. The barrage from our younger bowlers again causing havoc and Ben Howell with a first five-for, 5-40. As Jack Hainsworth was on holiday, Joel Gallagher was promoted to open and he responded typically well with 59 in a 99-run stand with Robert Hopkinson [44]. The 131-2 was reached in 27.2 overs of one-sided cricket. T'other Lancastrians arrived at Cure Hill and also took a battering, but only after removing both Oaks openers for ducks.  Oakworth put up 315-6 and another centurion, indeed our youngest ever in the shape of Ben Howell with 112 [16 fours and 2 sixes] signalled the strength in depth of the home side. Ben was backed up by 68 from Michael and 71 from Robert as Irfan Khaliq ended their best bowler with 3-74 off only 13 overs. James Lickess led the Foulridge fight with 64 but his team subsided at 166 in just under 40 overs. Jack Davison continued his impressive bowling form with another 4-48. Our record was 10-2-2 but all eyes were on the last 3 fixtures and of course the following day's Cup semi-final with Haworth.

It did not disappoint. Oaks went first dig and were held in check by fine controlled bowling from Richard Ellis with 2-30 in his allotted 12 overs in contrast to a wayward match for the elder Rowell. At 96-6 the 39 from Ben Howell and 20+ scores from Gareth Marshall and Joel Gallagher at the top of the order were in danger of being frittered. A 9th wicket stand of 33 from second teamers Nivard Trowers 22 and Sam Nettleton 18 in part negated the 3-24 from Jamie Rowell. Oakworth posted 153-8 in their 40 overs. At 82-0 Haworth seemed to be cold stone certainties to reach the Final but the loss of Jamie for 49 seemed to signal withdrawal into a collective shell. At 133-6 the match was back in the melting pot after Gareth Marshall intervened with 3-25. Whilst Haworth’s Harry Reynolds resisted with 18 alongside a becalmed opener Peter Gower, Oakworth bowler Ben Howell added 3-26 to his earlier runs. The match went all the way to the wire, watched by a great crowd and the last over was reached with the last pair at the wicket; Peter Gower on 40no and last man Neil Rollins on strike. With one ball left Haworth stood on 150-9, needing a boundary to win.  Only a single materialised as Oakworth edged home by just 2 runs. What a cracker! Oakworth’ fifth consecutive Wynn Cup Final defending their trophy from 2014 was to be staged at Yes……….. Haworth, despite some CDCL Exec concerns.

The trip to Baildon Bottom proved an easier trial and although Robert Greenwood hit 52 another strong bowling performance from Ben Howell 4-42 undermined the rest and their tally was 156. A 116 run stand from Joel Gallagher 41 and Gareth Marshall 75 settled any possible nerves and we ran out winners by 8 wickets. The home match with Embsay was a victim of poor weather. Batting first against Crossflatts continued our batting prowess of recent weeks and 78 to Ben Howell and 75 to Gareth again dominated the bowlers. A 24-ball cameo of 49 from Lewis Wrathall elevated our total to 251-5. The 'Flatts best bowler was Charlotte Boulton with 3-71 including Oaks top 2 scorers. Bakshi was hit out of the attack, conceding 42 in 5 overs. He failed with the bat too lasting only 3 balls, The clock was turned backwards as skipper Michael Scarborough bowled 15 overs and pencilled 5-39 onto his list of achievements. Crossflatts reply ended at 163-9.

On Sunday 2nd August, a week before the Wynn Cup Final, Oakworth were pleased and honoured to stage the Manorlands Plate 20-20 day on behalf of the Craven & District League. The day’s purpose was of course to raise money for the Oxenhope-based Hospice, all the more poignant following the death earlier in the season of popular local umpire, Derek Granger.  It proved a wonderful day, blessed with warm weather and some fine cricket with Oakworth going on to win the Plate in the final against Sutton. Later it was learned the day had raised a marvellous £2,500 for Manorlands.  That day Oakworth vice-Chairman and Second Xl wicket-keeper Simon Howell worked all day at the Oakworth barbecue helping raise a substantial portion of that total. Less than 24 hours later 49 years-old Simon collapsed at the wheel of his car and was pronounced dead after a heart-attack. For his partner Jane Scarborough, son Ben, parents and sister it was of course a devastating blow.  For Oakworth they had lost a player, a key worker, official and above all a friend from the ranks.

One week later the Wynn Cup Final preliminaries included a tribute to Simon on the Haworth pitch by both teams and the entire crowd.  The ensuing match would write yet another chapter in not only the history of the Oakworth-Haworth relationship but also that of the Wynn Cup competition itself.

Our opponents were Bingley Congs, who had defeated Crossflatts in the other semi-final. Interestingly the match was to unfold 50 years since the same two clubs had contested the Keighley Charity Cup in 1965, a first Final for Oakworth, but won by the Beckfoot boys.

Electing to bat first Bingley Congs lost their first wicket at 15 and it was key batsman Neil Copping for only 1, clean bowled by Ben Howell, Simon’s 18 year old son. The young all-rounder followed up with the scalp of other opener Andy Copping [31] with Congs score on 38-2. Chris Dibb and Aussie Tom Mackenzie engineered a recovery with a 57-run partnership, taking the score to 95-3 when Dibb on 10 was bowled by Adam Smith. Mackenzie was going well on 53no. No 5 Tom Keighley allowed the Adelaide batsman the bulk of the strike, contributing just 1 to a stand of 23. But it was the antipodean who departed for a 38-ball innings of 73, caught by Gareth Marshall to give Smithy a second victim at 118-4. 10 runs later the 26-ball innings of 1 from Keighley was ended with a stumping for Tim Walsh and bowler Gareth Marshall. At 128-5 Oakworth tails were up having dismissed prolific Mackenzie and both Smith and Marshall went on to each snap up 4 wickets to bring Congs innings to a premature close on 156 all out after 35.3 overs. The Oakworth reply reached 36 before the first wicket fell; Jack Hainsworth for 10, bowled by Harry Greenhalgh.  Disastrously 4 runs later opening partner Marshall followed in similar manner, to the rangy Matty Roberts for 23. Oaks skipper Michael Scarborough failed to trouble the scorers as he nicked a ball from Roberts to Dibb at 40-3. The fall of Ben Howell for 13 bowled by wily Neil Copping had Oakworth teetering at 57-4 in the 14th over. For Robert Hopkinson fate had an lbw in store and his 6 had helped to take Oaks on to only 61-5. Lewis Wrathall added 4 but his charge at spinner Copping brought a stumping for keeper Dibb. 73 for 6 was a parlous position with 84 still needed to win in the remaining 21 overs. No 7 Joel Gallagher had brought renowned defensive qualities and resisted with Adam Smith. But at 89 Adam went for the big hit over deep mid-on only to be caught for 10 by Josh Nutting on the boundary. Number 9 Jack Davison had been out of form but a telling innings from either him or Joel was urgently required at 89-7 with 17 overs left. Oakworth supporters’ prayers were not really answered as Joel was also caught by Nutting for Copping at 94-7. He had stayed at the crease for a dogged 31 balls and made 15. Davison was ever watchful but was finding his feet and form at the other end on 13. No 10 Steve Filkin, man-of-the-match in the previous two finals, joined the young left-hander and together another 18 runs were eaked out. Steve was bowled by returning Roberts who now had 3 Oakworth scalps and 3-32 in his 8 overs. At 112-9 still needing 45 to win, the Oakworth hard-won Cup looked to be on the way down the A650 to Bingley. But last man Tim Walsh was vastly experienced and his fifth ball received was dispatched for 6 and 2 balls later Davison followed suit to jointly make a mess of Roberts’ hitherto neat figures with 17 off the 36th over. The crowd mood now changed and Oakworth followers began to believe the impossible. The score was 132-9 with 4 overs left. Surely Oakworth couldn’t score 25 from 24 balls with the last pair at the wicket, could they? The 37th over brought only 2 runs from Greenhalgh and the task became ever harder.  The 38th from Copping witnessed another 4 runs but featured a startling fluffed catch from Nutting but at 138-9 and still needing another 19 the Cup was slipping from Oaks grasp. Roberts then conceded 10 and suddenly the miracle was a distinct possibility if still unlikely.  Nine runs needed to win. Walsh was on 17no and Davison 29 no.  There was to be further twists of the wheel of fortune. The first ball of the last over from Neil Copping who then boasted figures of 4-27 from his previous 10 overs, was a ‘dot’ and the Congs supporters were lifted as the Oakworth crowd grimaced. The next ball sailed over the boundary for a maximum from the cool Davison and suddenly Oakworth needed just 3 to win from 4 balls!  The next ball brought no joy to Congs but a huge sigh of relief for Oakworth as 2 runs were pinched to bring the scores level. With 1 run to win and 3 balls in which to get it had Oakworth favourites to win the pulsating Final. Copping put the next on the spot and Davison was forced to block for another ‘dot’. The penultimate ball was the make-or-break moment as Davison went for the repeat six but this time the ball flew skyward and Mackenzie, who had done most to forward the batting cause for Congs, took the steepling catch and Jack Davison fell crest-fallen to his knees as the match was incredibly …. Tied.

What a fantastic match and what a fantastic result, the first ever Tied Final in the Wynn Cup 89 year history. The Cup would be decided in a replay in 4 weeks time!! The replayed Final was awarded to Ingrow CC on 6th September and soon it also sunk in that the Oakworth-Haworth return league encounter on 5th September might also decide the winners of the First Division Championship. Could we stand it all?

Back in league action, Riddlesden batsmen again succumbed meekly to Oaks with another bowler in on the act. This time it was Gareth Marshall with a stunning 6-13. Their 95-9 or rather the poor wicket did pose a few problems in the chase but 43no from Joel Gallagher again showed his fine form with the bat. A disappointing batting display from Sutton concluded at 112 all out after Gareth 4-17 and Michael 4-23 showed the younger bowlers a thing or two. But expectations of an easy win were frustrated by Simon Doane 4-42 and 2-43 from Richard Walker and Oaks needed 33.2 overs to reach 116-6 thanks to another 40 for Joel. So the business end of the league campaign was upon us and [see their Review] the Second Xl were also unbelievably in contention for both their competitions. A double-double was a possibility. The league position was 14-3-2, 4 points clear requiring one win to take the Mewies Championship.

The next league match was incredibly against Cup Final rivals Bingley Congs at Wide Lane. 13 overs of classy quick bowling from Ben Howell with 6-38 was the key factor in limiting Congs to 148 all out. Their hero at Haworth, Adelaider Tom Mackenzie again looked dangerous but was caught by the safe hands of Joel Gallager for 37. A 66-run opening partnership from back-from-injury Jack Hainsworth 44 and Gareth Marshall 42 set the Oakworth bandwagon rolling but two quick wickets applied the brakes at 97-4. A skipper's innings from Michael Scarborough laid down a hopeful replay marker with 33no as Oaks racked up a league double over Congs at 151-5. Neil Copping took 4-48. Later that evening Oakworth was alight with festivity as we learned that neighbours Haworth had comfortably beaten nearest challengers Ingrow St Johns who could now not catch Oakworth, the 2015 Mewies League Championship winners.

As league Champions in preparation for a Cup Final replay, Oakworth had still to play Haworth in the Worth Valley bragging rights final at Cure Hill. 73 for the first wicket was a great Oaks start and a further 90 for the second was even better, but another 72 for the third was exquisite. Gareth Marshall took just 80 balls to make 89; whilst Jack Hainsworth [42], Ben Howell [68no] and Joel Gallagher 37 were fantastic back-ups. 258-5 was a record for the Worth Valley derby at Cure Hill and would severely test the resolve of the Haworth lads. But you can never rule them out against Oakworth! And Jamie Rowell continued his sequence of scores with 77no, carrying his bat. Andy Coatesworth added 47 but overall there were not enough runs and the reply ended at 183 all out. Oaks star bowler was none other than Joel Gallagher with 3-13.

The Cup Final replay was blessed with wonderful weather and a good crowd. Michael Scarborough won the toss and asked Congs to bat first. Early wickets for Ben Howell were countered by Chris Dibb, Aussie Tom Mackenzie and Tom Keighley. The dismissal of Mackenzie for 31 was a huge relief after he had been dropped earlier. Tom Keighley was the batting rock, making 50 before Matt Roberts 38no and skipper Dave Tarren 23 pushed the Congs tally onto 209-8 after their 40 overs. Jack Davison who had rescued Oaks innings in the Haworth Tie, was the pick of our bowlers with 3-47. As many times in recent Cup Finals Oakworth made a terrible start losing openers Hainsworth and Gallagher for just 10 runs. The rebuild came from Ben Howell and Gareth Marshall with a 39 stand before the limping Marshall was caught for 21. Another 46 were added by Howell and Rob Hopkinson but a rush of blood from Ben was defeated by the leg-spin of Mackenzie and he was stumped for 43 from 81 balls at 95-4. The talented Aussie added 3 more scalps and the Oakworth innings fell apart with two kamikaze run outs when chasing 10 runs an over. The reply fizzled out at 125 all out with Mackenzie registering 4-15 and claiming the Man-of-the-Match award.

The last match against Ingrow St Johns was a victim of horrendous wet weather and Oakworth finished nine points clear of their rivals.

The remote dream of a double-double had failed at the last hurdle but as Craven & District League Champions and Wynn Cup Runners-up was terrific indeed for the club which had had so many highs and lows during the turbulent year. The performances of the Second Xl had surprised but delighted all our supporters and arguably was the finest achievement of all, to win the league and Cup in a Division of First teams was truly remarkable.

The Championship came off the back of 8 wins and just 1 defeat at Wide Lane, 2 lost to the weather. The loss in April was once again against Barrowford and Karim Khan in particular. Unusually batting first 6 times, Oaks scored a staggering 2,260 runs at home, the second highest ever behind 2,314 in 2010. 59 wickets were lost. The 38.31 runs per wicket lost was also second highest behind 2013 with 40.36. Our hard working bowlers toiled unbelievably hard to take 89 of the 90 wickets from the 9 completed matches for a highly creditable concession of 17.21 runs for each one. So any doubts about the efficacy of our bowling attack, shorn of Matt House, were truly dispelled although concerns over fitness of Steve Filkin in the second half of the season is a worry for 2016. On our travels we also gained 8 wins and 1 defeat although scoring was significantly lower away from the renowned Cure Hill strip, so ably prepared by grounds-man Wifrid Scarborough and his team. Batting first just 3 times meant that 1,325 runs were all that was required and in consequence our batsmen gave up only 46 of their valuable wickets [1 more than in 2014]. The batting out-turn of 28.60 per wicket was again our second best ever [after 2013]. The bowlers were asked to bowl first 6 times and proved less productive wicket-wise on 'foreign' soil. Nevertheless they captured 75 wickets in the nine matches at 16.52 runs apiece, more efficiently than at home. Overall the two league matches lost were both when batting second, one away and one at home. Our 16 wins matched the returns of 2013 and 2011 and is inferior only to the 22 in 2001 [26 matches] and 17 in 2002. 3,585 runs came our way and is our fourth best whilst the 164 wickets taken sits as 15th best. 105 wickets were lost whilst 164 were taken to underline the fine contribution from the bowlers in support of the excellent batsmen, whose overall 34.14 per wicket is only marginally behind our best ever of 34.41 in 2013.

As above our batsmen enjoyed the Cure Hill strip, amazingly averaging over 250 per innings!! There was 4 centuries at Oakworth, two for Jack H [111 & 118] and one each for Gareth [143] and Ben Howell [112] whilst only Gareth registered one elsewhere, 104 at Sutton. Indeed Gareth was our only batsmen to register a 50 away from Cure Hill with 3 [Sutton, Haworth and Haworth Road]. as we generally batted second, chasing low scores. Our best visitor was who else but Jamie Rowell with 77no although Vikram Bakshi did hit 86 in the 20-20 "slogathon". For the bowlers 'Five-fors' came 3 at home and 3 away, falling to Jack Davison [2] Ben Howell [2], Michael Scarborough [1] and Gareth Marshall [1]; the best the 6-13 by Gareth at Riddlesden.

Gareth Marshall batted 16 times and again led the top 7 with 748 runs and was followed by 511 from Jack Hainsworth. Robert Hopkinson pitched in 454. New boy Ben Howell chipped in 387 at average over 48 in just 11 knocks whilst skipper Michael Scarborough added 344. One player to show huge strides forward was Joel Gallagher who reached 269 and there was 192 for Adam Smith. Jack Davison, Lewis Wrathall and Brannan Lawn in limited opportunities all passed the 100 mark.

The share of wickets unfolded with 34 for Jack Davison [av 14.85], 27 for the skipper Michael Scarborough [av 18.00], 26 by Ben Howell [av 13.27] and 22 to Adam Smith [av 21.64]. Quickie Steve Filkin suffered injury mid-season and returned only 17 wickets, the same as golden arm' Gareth Marshall.  Other bowlers mustered 14 wickets and there was 7 run outs to savour.

Tim Walsh was again behind the timbers, but has announced his retirement for a second time He dismissed 20 victims [2 stumped & 18 caught]. Our out-fielding catchers were topped by Gareth Marshall with 11.

So where does the club go from here, the only way is down it would seem! Maybe a new league perhaps? Which ever direction, it will be without Tim Walsh and Robert Hopkinson and sadly of course the late Simon Howell. The injury to Steve should hopefully heal well during the winter with proper rest and exercise. But positively the form of Ben Howell and Jack Davison, particularly in pressure matches has been outstanding and they will surely go on to even bigger and better returns. Robert Hopkinson bows out with a stupendous career batting average of 40.80, second only to Gareth.  His 5,671 league runs is headed only by the big 3 of Michael, Wilf and Barry Sayer. It seems certain though that Ben Fothergill will take the batting vacancy following a tremendous season when he would have won the Division Two Batting Averages with enough innings. Michael Scarborough continues to belie his years and now has just under 13,000 runs and of course this year he surpassed the magical 1,000 wicket mark, as arguably the league's best ever all-rounder He has 460 league appearances and 610 in all. Only his illustrious father lies ahead of that mark with 632.

Gareth remains the wicket they all want to get as his batting average of 61.24 shows, from 2,021 runs in just 49 league appearances. His bowling too is top drawer and he is the rock around which the team is now built. Opening partner Jack Hainsworth continues to wreak havoc at the top of the order [2 centuries in 2015] and at age just 23 his career tally is now 3,466 runs at 30.67 average from 129 appearances. Is there a better opening pair anywhere? Joel Gallagher is back to his best and now has 167 appearances under his belt. He has amassed 2,740 runs at 21.41 despite frequent moves up and down the order. So a top six of Jack H, Gareth, Ben H, Michael, Ben F and Joel offers little respite for our opposition in 2016.

The wicket-keeping place is of course up for grabs and made all the more difficult following our sad loss of Simon. But the progress made by Matty Lee surely warrants a place in 2016 and whilst he will not fill Tim's boots just yet, there are signs he might in a few years time. The leading bowlers will hopefully be a fit Steve Filkin, Michael, Gareth, Adam Smith and Jack Davison. Lewis Wrathall bowled only 30 overs in 13 appearances taking 4 wickets, his batting progress seemingly ahead of that with the ball. Nevertheless he can continue to be the all-rounder, capable of winning matches with either skill. But there may be a way back to First Xl cricket for Jack Ellis, whose 57 wickets were arguably the principle reason the Second Xl won the double.

But with Nivard Trowers, Robert Hollingsworth and Drew Duffy as back up batsmen and Ricky Linden, Tom Fothergill and Joel Fothergill climbing the bowling rankings we need not panic about our strength, wherever we choose to play.