Oakworth Cricket Club
The 2016 season
To follow and match a season such as 2015 would be a
major ask but to do it after the losses of such high quality players as
Robert Hopkinson [ret], Tim Walsh [ret], Jack Hainsworth [BCL], Simon Howell
[dec] & Steve Filkin [inj] would tax any club. Nevertheless that's what Oakworth CC had to
face and to finish a very creditable fourth was beyond expectations of
even their most ardent supporters. That mountain to climb was made a
little harder when the fixture list was published showing Oaks first
three fixtures as particularly tough. The rise of Bingley Congs and
Crossflatts added to the resurgence from Embsay presented a strong First
Division with new young teams from Denholme and Sutton also in
Scarborough retained the Captaincy with two adjutants in Adam Smith &
Jack Davison for the team which would miss the services of Ben
Fothergill and Lewis Wrathall who would be at University for most of the
The first fixture at Home to Haworth Road along with all other matches was a victim of very poor weather and the CDCL decided to transfer the fixture to the end of the season. So we commenced activities with a trip to Shires Lane to tackle a team very much on an upward curve. Not for the first time Scott Robinson led their attack with 4-11 from 9 very frugal overs and we tallied just 154. That was well ahead of the score that looked likely until no 8 Brannan Lawn added 51no to the 32 from Jack Davison. But there our fight-back ended as Josh Robinson bashed 85 with Duncan Ward playing a support role with 41. After only 29.2 overs we had succumbed by nine wickets. Our first home encounter was against rival neighbours Haworth. It was a tough challenge to present to 15-year-old debutant Joel Fothergill, but how well the left-armer responded. Joel returned 4-27 to add to the 3-32 from Adam Smith.Opener Jamie Rowell added 78 to his growing list of top scores against Oaks but his team-mates added only a further 61 to post 139-8. Game on! The barrage from Jamie [3-28] and Richard Ellis [4-44] was expected but the extra ingredient of 3-45 from West End 'signing' Charlie Shimmin pegged us back at 124 all out, with Matty Lee our top-scorer on 33.
After the 2 defeats the last side we needed to face was Bingley Congs, many people's favourites for the 2016 Championship title. At Beckfoot the home side line up included new signing Sam Porter from New Zealand and his 61 spearheaded the Congs 201 all out. The bowlers again battled well with 4-70 from Jack Davison and another 3-28 from Adam Smith. For vice-captain Jack it was arguably his best match to date as he added 53 to his fine bowling. The skipper Michael Scarborough at no 9 posted a fine 31no but it was too late as we ran out of overs at 175-8, just 27 runs short of the target. A third defeat in a row was a poor start but there was signs that the batsmen were beginning to match the bowlers as we began to learn what was our best line-up. Our second home match vs Cowling was to provide some royal entertainment. Electing to bat first Oaks got off to a flyer with an opening 94 stand before Joel Gallagher fell for 31. Partner Gareth Marshall went on to completely dominate the Cowling attack and in the process shattered the Oakworth highest league individual innings with 182 not out. His knock included 19 fours and 5 sixes from just 131 balls. It exceeded the record of President Wilfrid Scarborough  which had stood since 1984. Oakworth posted a brilliant 302-4 for Cowling to chase. And they made a good fist of it with 3 batsmen passing the half-century mark; Choudhry , Hassan  and Davy  on the way to a creditable 261-7. 1-0-3 was our standing. The following day Cowling conceded the Wynn Cup match scheduled for Wide Lane.
Our next opponents were Crossflatts at Wide Lane and another battle was expected. On a damp wicket and in poor weather conditions Oaks allowed the base of a solid 30 from Gareth Marshall to dissipate and slumped to 82-7. Steve Powell had been drafted in from the Second/Third Xls and his 54 not out rescued the innings with 7 overs un-bowled and our total at 145 all out, Visiting skipper Dominic Bennett opened in frenetic style as the conditions looked to be headed for a downpour. He smashed 6 fours and 5 sixes in his 63 not out. Big-hitting Vikram Bakshi joined him and belted another 5 sixes to carry the Flatts to 118-2 in just 15 overs. But there scoring ended in soaking rain with Oaks glad of another point for the year. 1-1-3. Whilst spirits might have been a tad low, the journey to Street Lane to face the Johnnies didn't offer many feelings of excitement. But a welcome return to form from 2015 sensation Ben Howell with 54 was perhaps the signal for revival and more consistent scoring took us to 170 all out despite 5-32 from wily ISJ skipper Wasim Hussain. But you never know what to expect from the Johnnies and Gareth Marshall 3-27 and Joel Fothergill 3-37 had them in trouble. Only the stubborn Omar Khatab  made any impact and their all out 118 gave us our second 3-pointer of the season.
A home match with promoted Denholme offered prospect of further progress and when we had them all out for 102 there were not many who foresaw any other outcome. The position was brought about on the back of a maiden First Xl 5-for [5-14] for Joel Fothergill. At 6 for 3 that certainty was quickly in doubt as opening Denholme bowler Luke Pickles ran riot. And there was no let up as our wickets tumbled. Adam Smith held the lower order together but with our score on 96 needing just 7 to win, no 11 Michael Davison was given out lbw and we suffered our fourth defeat and stood at 2-1-4. The following day we welcomed the Johnnies as Second round Wynn Cup opponents. Once again the top order failed and at 21-5 a disaster loomed. A 69-run stand between Michael Scarborough  and Adam Smith  heralded an unbeaten 41-run last wicket stand from Lewis Wrathall  and Joel Fothergill  to reach 151-9, hopefully a competitive total. But a 107-run opening partnership from Deepal Dissanayake and Imran Zaman scuppered our hopes and ISJ ran out the victors on 155-3 in only 20.2 overs.
The trip to Sutton as first visitors to their resplendent new pavilion, was curtailed by heavy rain with Oaks score at 115 all out [Richard Walker 6-34]. It had been another indifferent batting display until no 8 Brannan Lawn added 48 to reach even that figure. 2-2-4 and we still occupied the bottom places. Riddlesden also were struggling in 2016 and we had high hopes they might yield points on their visit to Wide Lane. The Keighley side reached 56-4 to improve our chances before Aftab Khan slammed 95 from just 56 balls to transform their prospects. He whalloped 11 sixes as Riddlesden galloped to 202-8. Anchor man Ben Howell proved adept at that role and his 9 fours set up our chase before a string of wickets put the outcome again in doubt. Once again a no 8 came to the rescue as Adam Smith rattled up 32 only to see a penultimate ball run-out for no 11 Joel with our score on 198, just 4 adrift. 2-2-5 with just 2 matches of the season's first half remaining.
The journey over to Noyna was made in something of a do or die mood as Foulridge too were fellow strugglers. Captain Michael Scarborough brought himself on 1st change and he spurred Adam Smith to 3-42 whilst he himself picked up 5-13 in 9.3 overs. The Lancastrians were rolled over for only 97 in 32.3 overs. Was this the catalyst for better times? Despite 2 early wickets the answer was unequivocably "Yes" as Adam smashed 11 boundaries in his 64no and we coasted to just our third victory at 101-3 in 24.2 overs. 3-2-5 looked much better as we got out of the bottom rungs. Going to Haworth Road was now more of a pleasure than of late and with our first knock standing at 125-2 a breath of fresh air seemed present in our play. Joel Gallagher hit an opening 57 and Adam Smith a smart 45 to help us to a season's high score of 220. The coup-de-grace came from back on song Gareth Marshall with 5-26 and another 3-33 from Jack Davison to confine the home side to 119 all out to claim a 101 run victory margin. 4-2-5 and we climbed a couple of places up the table.
The second half of the season unfolded at Wide Lane versus Embsay but once again with rain on the horizon. This time Duncan Ward was the aggressor with 74 but at 173-8 in the 32nd over the rains drew a halt to proceedings. In the circumstances a good Point!! 4-3-5. Heading over the burn seeking to reverse our earlier loss to Haworth, Oaks conceded yet another half-century  to Jamie Rowell and then watched a wild piece of fortune for Harry Reynoldson  carry the hosts to 158-7. Five of those scalps fell to Gareth Marshall [5-50] for a successive 5-for. It was Ben Howell [49no] and Adam Smith  who secured the revenge win at 161-4 with almost 11 overs in hand. Now we were cooking with gas at 5-3-5, League leaders Bingley Congs came to Wide Lane seeking a double over Oaks but our form was now on a different plane than at our first meeting. At 13-3 the Congs were in early trouble but middle and lower order solidity proved a useful riposte, led by 44 from Mohammed Adil. Their 172-8 was held up by 3-32 from experienced Michael Scarborough and 3-57 from Gareth Marshall. For Oaks reply the top order, now full of confidence, did the 'biz' and ran out winners on 173-4 with 37 balls in hand. The innings was significant for a highly effective 32 from Robert Hollingsworth, now finding his feet after a surprise call up to the First Xl. 6-3-5 and positive territory!
On a cold summer evening [what else] Oakworth faced Keighley CC at Lawkholme for a place in the 20-20 Final later in September. Batting first Matt Haines and Jack Rogers spearheaded the Keighley attack and we found ourselves at 36-4 after 7 overs. Enter Lewis Wrathall [23 from 14], Joel Gallagher [28 from 36] and Jordan Powell [26 from 12] with 2 sixes and the innings was transformed to 132-7 and concluded at 142-8 to set the Bradford Leaguers a challenge. Keighley were indebted to no 3 Andy Wear whose 44 from 51 balls kept them in the hunt. Joel Fothergill had removed both openers and Gareth Marshall two of the middle order and suddenly Keighley 1were 115-8 in the 19th over. A tail-wag from their skipper Alex Towler flattered to deceive and the 'senior' side petered out at 131-8 to hand Oaks the victory by 11 runs.
At Cowling we continued the climb up the table having the Pinnacle boys all out for a meagre 54. Ben Howell 3-6 and Rick Cavender 3-17 were prominent with the ball. Back from Uni Ben Fothergill  and Adam Smith  did the rest. With three wins in a row we had rescued the season and were now causing the leaders concern. 7-3-5. Crossflatts were now challenging Bingley Congs for the Division leadership and Rishworth Park was our next destination. With five scores in the twenties we showed a much better profile and our 195 all out was clearly competitive against a strong outfit with Jim O'Hara returning 5-53. And it was O'Hara who proved a real thorn in our side batting no 7 and making 41no. But it was no 10 Mohammed Jamil that broke our resistance with 26no to take the Flatts to 199-8 with 8 balls left. 7-3-6.
Our third meeting with the Johnnies proved just as unpredictable as the first two but was settled by yet another 5-for from Gareth Marshall [5-36] as the Wide Lane visitors made just 102 all out in 37 overs. At 34-4 we had a little wobbler but Nivard Trowers 25 no and Michael Scarborough 43 no settled matters at 103-4. 8-3-6 with 5 to play. There was a feeling that we owed Denholme one but at their midden youngsters Toby Priestley and Matt Wear each racked up 65 in a team tally of 214-9 in a 36 over match. Tall order? Not a bit of it as Joel Gallagher 28 no and Gareth Marshall 53no rattled up 88-0 in just 13 overs before the heavens opened. Gareth had earlier taken 4-42 as his top form was now fully evident. 8-4-6, 4 to go.
Sutton might have felt Oaks owed them one but their 163 all out was not likely to be sufficient given recent Oakworth form. From 114-2 Sutton fell away badly losing 8 wickets for 49 runs, principally to Jack Davison who garnered 4-28. 78 from 'flying' Gareth Marshall and 43no from also on-song Ben Howell set the tone and again Robert Hollingsworth 29no stunned the visitors as we took the win by 7 wickets in just 25 overs. 9-4-6 and a top four slot was on the cards. There was one competition in which we had a real chance of success and that was the Keighley Cup 2000 20-20. Oakworth had reached Finals day at Keighley CC and would face Harden in the first semi-final. The bowling attack of Jack, Joel, Ben, Rick and Gareth worked wonders in containing the Harden batsmen to just 99-6 in an allotted 15 overs after pre-tournament rain. Joel Fothergill belied his years and his 2-22 included the wicket of Harden top-scorer D Pollock . A disastrous start with the bat had us on 14-3 in the wake of penetrative bowling from R Falkingham with 3-14. Vice-Captain Adam Smith halted their progress and his 36-ball innings produced 45 runs to give us the chance of victory. It was Lewis Wrathall who grabbed the nettle with 19 from 11 balls and we reached 101-7 with 4 balls remaining. In the Final our fourth meeting of the season with ISJ was our reward. Their opener Imran Zaman remained resolute making 54 from 57 balls whilst our bowlers picked up wickets steadily. At 112-8 in the 17th over our bowlers were well satisfied but no 10 Nadeem Zaman smashed 25 [five 4s] from 11 balls and the tally raced ahead to 146-8 after the restored 20 overs. Ben. Jack and Gareth each took a brace in another fine display. Once again at 14-3 our hopes looked slim but that man Adam Smith again stepped up to the oche, this time making 23 from 20 balls. From 52-7 the finishing line looked miles away but Jordan Powell did what only he can do and his 14-ball 29 runs livened up the crowd with two massive sixes. He fell at 89-8 to be followed immediately by Jack. At 89-9 we were all but out for the count and though Joel and Rick entertained with another 24 the Cup detsiny was already certain. Oaks ended on 113 all out, 33 short of the tough target.
A completely rain ruined day brought another point against Ridddlesden and a complete mis-match with Foulridge added another 3 with an 8-wicket win after the Lankies were skittled for just 36. Their tormentor was Ben Howell with 5-7, now fully showing 2015 form. 10-5-6. The season was rounded off on 17th September with a lack-lustre 4 wicket defeat at home to Haworth Road when 16 players were unavailable for selection. 100 all out was a sad finish to a second half which had been highly entertaining. Embsay too lost but they pipped Oaks for third place. But what an outcome for Oaks after losing the first 3 matches of the year, our second half form was 6-3-2, much more like recent years with a much more experienced team.
The rebuilding of the team had begun. Skipper Michael held faith in second-teamers Steve Powell, Robert Hollingsworth and Rick Cavender whilst the blooding of Joel Fothergill had been an early season master-stroke. In a year of numerable stand-ins Nivard Trowers when called on also repaid his faith. Poor starts from Ben Howell and Gareth Marshall held the batting back for a while but the middle and lower orders responded well. Stalwarts Joel Gallagher and Michael Scarborough chipped away with good returns whilst younger players Adam Smith and Jack Davison were always in the thick of things with both bat and ball as were Ben and Gareth as the year wore on. One other young player to excel was Jack Cawood who stepped up to the wicket-keeping role from the Second Xl and finished in style with 9 victims to overhaul the 8 from Brannan Lawn who stepped down mid-season. Ben Fothergill, Matty Lee and re-enthused Joe Copperwaite made appearances too when available and required.
At Wide Lane Oaks had an out of character 4 defeats [Haworth, Denholme, Riddlesden & Haworth Road] with matches against Crossflatts and Embsay which might have also ended as losses but for the weather. We batted first just 3 times with mixed outcomes; 302 vs Cowling, 145 vs Crossflatts and just 100 against Haworth Road. Our run tally in 10 innings at home was 1,445 runs for the loss of 66 wickets at 21.9 per wicket. In the 11 matches our bowling attack took out 87 wickets [2nd highest in Division], but only 4 times taking all 10. Our opponents at Wide Lane managed 1.562 runs from 11 innings at 18.0 per wicket, but their bowlers gleaned just 66 of our wickets from the 10 times we batted.
On our travels we returned with 5 wins and 3 defeats to the 3 teams which finished ahead of us, with 2 rain affected draws and 1 washout [Riddlesden]. So in 10 knocks we tallied 1,436 runs [2nd highest in Division] for the loss of 68 wickets [21.1 per wicket], batting first 5 times; overall remarkably similar to our Home form. Opponents tallied 1,315 runs whilst losing 75 runs at 17.5 runs per wicket.
In total a 10-5-7 return and fourth place was a remarkable out-turn, given the start. 2,881 runs came our way for the loss of 134 wickets [21.5 each]. Opponents tallied 2,877 runs but lost 162 wickets in the process [17.3 each]. But intriguingly only St Johns [3,041] and Congs [2,933] scored more runs whilst only Denholme took more wickets. Only Crossflatts , Haworth  and Sutton  lost fewer than our 134 wickets. So our fourth place was perhaps no real surprise at all as our 'Form Difference' was the fourth best at 3.7 runs per wicket! But what were the 'negatives'? Our bowlers whilst exhibiting excellent strike rates were more expensive than most with only St Johns, Cowling and Foulridge conceding more runs for each wicket taken. Our batsmen in contrast scored at 21.5 runs per wicket lost, beaten only by Champions Crossflatts. At Home our concession of 1,562 runs was the highest in the Division, our visitors obviously enjoying the 'Road' provided by our ground staff!
To summarise, the 2016 Oaks were not far off the pace at all with only minor improvements required and our fall from Champions to fourth place was almost entirely down to the first 3 matches which were all lost. If they had all been won we would have ended with 44 points, just 3 points behind deserving Champions Crossflatts on 47.
The batsmen were again headed by Gareth Marshall with 492 runs [16 inns] at 35.14. After a poor start Ben Howell got back into the groove and totalled 320, [26.67] just ahead of Adam Smith on 307 [23.62]. Adam revelled in the increased responsibility that came with generally batting in the top four. Opener Joel Gallagher tallied 276, his best for some years. Jack Davison reached 248 and Brannan Lawn's early season form took him to 210. The skipper Michael Scarborough, operating much lower down the order continued to contribute with 188 and surprise packet Robert Hollingsworth seems now able to bat at this level more consistently and totalled 172. Also a lower order frequent contributor was Steve Powell with 118. There was just the one century, albeit a titanic club record 182 from Gareth and nine 50s to savour in a season when the inconsistent weather deflated most batting statistics.
This year we had no bowlers qualifying for the league averages, but we had a remarkably coherent attack of 6 bowlers, each putting in around 100 overs in the year. Gareth came out with most , followed by debut boy Joel Fothergill , Jack Davison  and then 20 each for Michael Scarborough, Adam Smith and Ben Howell. The principal stand-in was Richard Cavender who bowled well and never let the side down. He picked up 11 wickets from just 52 overs. And as in 2015 there was 7 run outs to savour. Behind the timbers Jack Cawood proved a real find; his 8 appearances brought 9 victims, seven of them against Foulridge!!
So what do we need to do for 2017 and how might we fare? The form of younger players Adam Smith, Ben Howell, Jack Davison, Joel Fothergill and Jack Cawood augurs extremely well for the future as they have all matured well stepping into more experienced boots. Joel Gallagher and Robert Hollingsworth as 'middle agers' both improved their tallies and look set to maintain their places in the team. Gareth Marshall continues to lead with both bat and ball and is a rock around which all the younger players can operate. The skipper Michael will be 46 next year and having now passed his father's club appearance record may consider hanging up the boots. However I think the lure of playing will be as strong as ever and the challenge of bringing through this much younger team might grab his attention again.
That accounts for 10 players and the remainder of the squad will surely come from Ben Fothergill, Matty Lee, Lewis Wrathall or maybe Sam Nettleton, Tom Fothergill or Jordan Powell and I would not rule out back-in-harness James Lee or Joe Copperwaite, who seems to again have the bit between his cricket teeth. For Steve Powell we must remember he was perhaps expected to take the Third Xl captaincy in 2016 and then found himself asked to assist the First Xl. He did remarkably well but may well be given other challenges in 2017.