Oakworth Cricket Club

The 2017 season 

Our summary at the close of the 2016 season was very much one of hope following a sterling effort to finish fourth despite the losses of high quality players Robert Hopkinson, Tim Walsh, Jack Hainsworth, Simon Howell & Steve Filkin. But pre-2017 season rumours of other players leaving Wide Lane, generally proved to be on the mark. Following on from the above losses we learned that Gareth Marshall, our top player would not be available for family reasons. Furthermore Adam Smith was to join Keighley in pursuit of a different challenge. Lewis Wrathall would be working and living in York for a year and so would play cricket in the local league. The losses of our rising young all-rounders Joel Fothergill and Hamzah Khan, who were both to join Oxenhope CC to play alongside a school-mate would be hard to bear. Jack Ellis too would not play as he was setting up home in Illingworth whilst availability of Nivard Trowers was also restrained by young family responsibilities. Ricky Linden and Matty Lee both had doubts about availability due to works demands. Sam Nettleton would for some reason, not be playing. Third Xl Captain Tariq Khan too would not be available to play. Late in the season the loss of Ben Fothergill was confirmed when he moved to London for a job. Losses of 9-10 players leaving the ranks put immediate doubts over the future of the Third Xl and threatened the divisional status of the two senior teams.

Chairman Michael Scarborough and his selection committee were to be placed in a continuous battle to find 33 players each week to ensure the club maintained its CDCL top-flight presence. Alan Fothergill led the Second Xi whilst Neil Bishop took on the Captaincy of the Third XL and boldly vowed to turn out 11 every week. First Xl regulars would be Joel Gallagher, Drew Duffy, Jack Davison, Robert Hollingsworth, Rick Cavender, Jack Cawood and Ben Howell in support of the skipper Michael. Joe Copperwaite, Jordan Powell, James Lee or Steve Powell would likely complete the side.

There was to be no easy ride in Division One as all teams looked competitive. First up at Wide Lane were resurgent Embsay. A terrific opening stand of 83 from Joel Gallaggher [42] and Drew Duffy [53] augured well, but the remaining 9 wickets added only 37 to post a dismal 120 all out in 35 overs. Wily slow bowler Scott Robinson 4-8 and young emerging quickie Elliot Stockton 4-13 did the damage. Embsay cruised to their target with 5 wickets down, 3-42 coming from the 12 overs from Rick Cavender. Another team on the rise with a crop of good young players was Denholme and we headed there for the first trip. Oaks drafted-in Harry Hollingsworth to bolster the bowling. And what a decision it proved as first change Harry bowled 3 and had 4 caught to return a stunning 7-62. Richard Taylor's 76 led the frog-boilers to 203-9 despite Harry's efforts. A second fantastic start from Joel [57] and Drew [32] in a 107-run partnership set us off on a great run-chase. Jack Davison, Joe Copperwaite and the skipper contributed well and in 38 overs Oaks had reached 205-5 and deservedly took the 3 points despite 3-57 from Toby Priestley. The gloom lifted a little. Cup-holders Bingley Congs were next at home and another 36 from on-fire Joel Gallagher carried us to 71-3 but again the batting collapsed to 126 in 32.2 overs. Unsung Danny Pearson with 4-14 led the Congs attack with 3-23 from Adie Dibb. A 102-run 2nd wicket stand from Kiwi Sam Porter [64] and Chris Dibb [50] carried Congs to an easy 8 wicket win in just 26 overs. 1-0-2 with successive home defeats.

The following day we trudged across the burn to Haworth in the first round of the Wynn Cup. The home side were without Jamie Rowell and our chances were all the better for that. A surprising 46 from dray-man Harry Reynoldson allowed Haworth to reach 159 with almost 10 over un-bowled. Rick Cavender again proved vital with 3-55 before Jack Davison 3-5 finished off the Bronte lads innings. And another 36 from Joel continued his fine run and he inspired a similar score from Ben Howell. But any further inspiration was not needed as Jordan Powell did his thing. 6 fours and 7 sixes carried him to 69 in just 17 balls and Oaks to 160-4 in only 21.3 overs of entertaining mayhem. So 2 home defeats and 2 away wins. Strange start.

Back at a wet home strip, Haworth Road not for the first time had Muhammed Zahid in fine nick and his 4-18 proved crucial in the agreed 25-over match. Oaks tallied 70-8 with only 6 boundaries to show. But the bowlers really got to grips and battled hard. Ben Howell 3-29 and Rick Cavender 2-33 did well but the Road got home in a kamikaze knock of 80 balls at 73-7. defeats at Wide Lane! Where's the fortress? A second match at West Lane Haworth was next, this time for league points in our bid for a third away win. Another rain-affected wicket brought a 30-over contest. This time Jamie Rowell was in the Haworth line-up but Rick Cavender had him caught by youngster Harry Hollingsworth for just 1 to raise our hopes. And when Pete Gower retired hurt it was game on.  But it was a false dawn as Damien Rowell [55] and Dan Trowers [48] added 94 to carry Haworth forward. Haworth tallied 151-6 at just over 5 per over. But you cant keep Jamie Rowell out of the action for long and his 3-25 was to be the telling factor in Oaks posting just 120-9 in reply. League form 1-0-3 and occupation in the bottom half of the table. We needed to break our home duck but high-flying Sutton didn't seem the likely opposition to give us opportunity. Solid scoring from most of the Sutton batsmen [top-score 43 from Chris Williams] propelled the visitors to 232-8 as all our bowlers toiled. Joel Gallagher was again off in fine style adding 34 from 44 for the 1st wicket. But Drew Duffy [75] with 9 fours and a six combined with Ben Howell [44] to add a welcome 103 for the 2nd wicket. At 177-6 the match was evenly poised due to 4-41 in 6 mixed overs from Ryan Ridehalgh. But the duck was broken with a partnership of 58 from Jack Davison and Robert Hollingsworth, each scoring 32no. With 16 balls in hand Oaks had reached 235-6 and a first Home win.

We had the chance for a 2nd Home win the following day in Round 2 of the Wynn Cup against bottom side Hepworth & Idle on their first visit to Wide Lane. A 114 4th wicket stand by Glen Pinckney [59] and their skipper Dave Matthew [50] was a huge threat to Oaks as the Bradford side posted 207 in 40 overs. After a steady start to 2017, 19 year-old Ben Howell hit the headlines with a 77-ball knock of 115no at the heart of the Oakworth reply. It was sufficient to carry Oakworth to 209-5 in only 32.4 overs for a side including untried juniors Lucas Keslinke and Bilaal Khan in addition to Harry Hollingsworth. So a good weekend for Oakworth. Could Ryshworth Park prove a happy hunting ground for a hat-trick of wins?  Ben Howell [5-39] and Rick Cavender [3-20] showed it could as a procession of Crossflatts wickets tumbled  and the 'Flatts had just 33 with 8 down. A potentially face-saving knock of 40no from no 10 Jim O'Hara took the total to 79 all out. For once our two prolific openers Joel and Drew failed and at 9-2 doubts may have crept in. But Jordan Powell's 33 in 17 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes settled nerves and we were home and dry at 81-4 after only 13 overs!  3-0-3 and round 3 of the Cup looked a much better position than many had feared.

Many people's title favourites Ingrow St Johns came up to Wide Lane for a meeting which had produced bucket loads of runs in recent seasons. Zimbabwean Ronnie Chuckununga took centre-stage with 109 at the top of Johnnies' order and solid scoring from their middle order enabled a 269-5 posting. It was the African who came up with a telling moment in our innings as he ran out no 3 Jack Davison for 82 as our innings was starting to blossom, before skipper Omar Khatab 3-21 finished off our gallant but losing reply at 207 in the 41st over. 3-0-4. Promoted Barrowford were finding life in Division One a little tough but seemed better matched with Oakworth at the Bull Holme. A second failure for our openers didn't phase our growing confidence and a second century [100] in 101 balls from the impressive Ben Howell anchored a faltering innings. 33 from James Lee and a 32-ball 57 from Jordan Powell elevated our posting to 248-9 despite 4-52 from Majid Iqbal and 4-61 from Ashir Imdad. Jack Davison 4-50 contained the Barrowford top order well and they fell behind the rate. Any hopes of a revival were snuffed out by 3-7 from Joe Copperwaite at 183-8. 4-0-4 and mid-to-upper table was looking good. The Wynn Cup Quater-Final at home to Denholme was next up and we started arguably as favourites based on current form and the earlier league win.

The fall of Matthew Wear at 28-3 seemingly signalled perhaps a modest total from the Denholme visitors. It was Ben Howell's third scalp in 7 overs. What happened next is the stuff of legends as Richard Taylor [99] and Isaac Murray [100]  added 223 runs to conclude their innings at 255 in their 40 overs. Perhaps what the record books wont show is how many catches the Oakworth fielders dropped; estimates vary between 6 and 12 !! Oakworth couldn't follow that and whilst 178 all out 30.4 overs was up with the rate, wicket loss proved vital for Denholme. Joe Greenwood was their hero with 5-49 whilst for Oakworth Robert Hollingsworth 41 no and Joe Copperwaite 39 stood out. The last match of the first half of the season against Hepworth & Idle might have seen a negative response following the Cup loss but the boys showed none of that. Joel Gallagher and Drew Duffy returned the top order to its usual fine start and at 109-2 Oakworth were well placed after Drew fell for 39 and Joel 25. But anchor man Joe Copperwaite played arguably his finest innings with 6 fours and 4 sixes in a sterling 81 not out. He shared a 59 stand with skipper Michael Scarborough [37] and 248-9 was reached. Dangerous Dave Mathews with 4-40 gave a skipper's lead and with 92 from Simon McDermott he also chopped in 32 to the H&I reply, which petered out at 174 in 35.4 overs. Ever reliable Rick Cavender 4-46 got just rewards and leggie Jack Davison picked up 4-11 at the tail end. The 20-match season [due to drop out of Riddlesden shortly after season start] now stood at 5 wins and 5 losses, for many ahead of where they feared.

Shires Lane is the graveyard for many but this time Oakworth's openers again gave hope of further progress at 84-1 [Drew Duffy 41]. But then Josh Robinson and Phil Binner each snaffled five-fors to curtail those hopes at a once again modest 107 all out. Two early wickets for Jack Davison including top-scorer Morgan Davies [34] gave early spirit to the attack and co-leggie Bilaal Khan showed his immense potential taking out 3 of the middle order including the Embsay skipper Binner for a duck. His 10overs brought him 3-22. The skipper Michael Scarborough came on to bowl as the tense match drew towards its close and his 2-5 signalled a real possibility of an upset. Unsung no 11 Sam Keane scraped the single need for Embsay to win at 108-9. 5-0-6 but Oakworth had shown they could still compete with the top three. A third meeting with Denholme at Wide Lane presented an opportunity to show the Cup QF was a fluke result and the visitors were duly skittled for 111. Their kamikaze batting produced four run-outs and a 4-33 for Joe Copperwaite to savour. Oakworth needed just 21 overs to overhaul that total with just 4 down. 6-0-6. It was down to Beckfoot next with confidence climbing by the day. A damp wicket wasn't helpful but the batting wasn't our finest moment, tallying only 119 in 36.5 overs. Ben Howell top scored with 28 but the 20 from no 11 Ollie Stell in a 36-riun last wicket partnership would prove priceless. Mohammed Adil and Harry Greenhalgh each grabbed 3 wickets for Congs. If Embsay was a day for the leggies then this was the day for the seamers and James Lee 4-31, Ben Howell 3-13 and Michael Scarborough 3-11 showed our total was more than enough as Congs were dispatched for only 58, having 'recovered' from 28-7. 7-0-6 and an amazing fourth place was reached.

Haworth Road were on a march up the table and would prove formidable opponents in our rise up the same table. And at Baildon Bottom the 'Road' bowlers proved a point taking Oakworth out for just 70 with Zahir Abbas returning 7-21. Once again 14 year old Bilaal Khan proved a handful taking 3-24 in 7 overs before the Road reached 72-5. 7-0-7 with 6 to go. The Worth Valley derby is always a good watch and at 1 each for the year the glorious 12th was keenly awaited. Sadly from Oakworth point of view it didn't really live up to the billing as the batting was restricted to 101 all out, simply "Rowelled" over ! Damien Rowell turned back the clock with 5-18 in 8 overs whilst brother Jamie again mopped up with 3-9. Limpet Peter Gower [43 no] did enough to see the Bronte boys home on 102-2 and the bragging rights went South across the water. 7-0-8. A win at Sutton would likely see Oakworth clear of any relegation worries as the Division had proved highly competitive with no-one really dominating proceedings. With 3-15 for Ben Howell and 3-11 for James Lee there wasn't much scope for Sutton to post a decent score. It proved to be 96 all out [Daniel Hanson 33no]. At 27-3 Sutton gained some hope of a reversal but again Jordan Powell finished in style with 35 off 21 balls to take us to 97-4 in 104 balls. 8-0-8.

Oakworth were seeking a double against 2016 Champions Crossflatts, who batted first at Wide Lane and posted 207 thanks to 56 from Vijay Amritharaj and 46 from Mayank Singh. Richard Cavender again showed his value to the team with 4-41. Joe Copperwaite [58] and Drew Duffy [48] led our reply to 88-3 but in an echo of early season, collapsed to 174 all out. For the Flatts Joe Lynch will remember his first visit to Wide Lane with 7-46. 8-0-9. The haul up to Street Lane came with Johnnies seeking their second title in 3 years whilst Oakworth were safe but slipping back down the table. Skipper Omar Khatab laid down an opening marker with 76 and Sarum Qureshi [45] and Ronnie Chuckununga [43 no] enabled a 239-7 posting. Skipper Michael Scarborough bowled a full 12 overs in taking 3-61. Joel Gallagher was back in the groove with 48 at the top of the innings but Qureshi with 4-39 and Raees Hussain 4-3 had us on our way home at 113 all out. 8-0-10.

The Home match with Barrowford was our first victim of the weather with a September wash-out. So the last match at distant Hepworth & Idle would see us with a 'losing' season whether we won or last. 34 for Joel Gallagher and 24 for Robert Hollingsworth were the only real contributions of note in our 122 all out. Jonathan Thompson [51] and Simon McDermott [58] did the rest in just 24 overs and the home side recorded a first ever win over Oakworth with 126-3.

So the team concluded a 2017 season still in Division One in 10th place with 8-1-11 the summary of the year's efforts. Make no mistake it was a hard year with high points a plenty but overall reflective of the loss of players outlined pre-season. It had a devastating effect on the Second Xl whose players were constantly called into the First team with the net result that the Second Xl were relegated without a win in their entire campaign.

Our Home form faltered resulting in 3-1-6 whilst on our travels a better outcome of 5-0-5 helped avoid the drop. At home we scored 1,398 runs in 9 innings and unbelievably only bottom side Hepworth & Idle [1,579] and Bingley Congs [1,439] scored more! However perhaps a pointer to the overall form was that we lost 77 wickets, the fourth highest. Our opponents at Wide Lane racked up 1,419 but lost just 59 wickets in the process. The run-rate difference was significant [18.2 to 24.1]. On other strips 1,281 runs came our way in 10 innings whilst losing 82 wickets. The home clubs tallied 1,316 for 77 wickets lost. The run-rate situation on our travels was thus 15.6 to 17.1, better but still negative. Overall the figures were 2,679 runs for the loss of 159 wickets [run rate 16.8], opponents managed 2,735 for 136 wickets [ run rate 20.1]. the run-rate difference was 3.3 runs for every wicket, only Barrowford and Hepworth & Idle fared worse.

Oakworth batted first 10 times, winning 3. Batting second produced 5 wins from 9 matches. Our highest score was 248, twice in successive matches vs the other strugglers Barrowford and Hepworth & Idle. Our lowest total was 69 at Haworth Road.

The batsmen scored 2,473 with their bats with 206 added by Mr Extras. The leading run-scorer and CDCL qualifier back to his best form was opener Joel Gallagher with a superb 441 [highest 57] at average 24.50 from 19 innings. Not far behind was his partner in crime Drew Duffy, also a CDCL list maker, with 412 [high 75] at 27.47 from 15 innings. These two lads set our innings innings under way superbly on many occasions with high partnerships, only to see their starts squandered. With 264 runs in only 11 innings, including our only league century, Ben Howell averaged 26.40. It was great to have Joe Copperwaite back in harness and his returns were perhaps beyond what might have been expected. He tallied 245 runs with a best of 81 at average 24.50 from 11 innings. Jack Davison quietly accumulated 229 runs with a best of 82 at 20.82 from 14 innings. Our sixth batsman with over 200 was Jordan Powell whose explosive match-winner capability shone only infrequently in his first full season in Division One, but nevertheless he totalled 228 at 15.20 in his 17 innings [best 57]. His 2019 season should develop yet further after his inaugural experiences, when available. 46 year-old Skipper Michael Scarborough regularly dropped himself down the order but still contributed 171 [best 37] at 13.15 from 15 innings. Robert Hollingsworth retained his place as co-finisher with Jordan and added 163 runs [best 33] to the cause form his 15 innings at 13.58. Altogether 24 players turned out in 2017 with Niall Saynor, Lucas Keslinke, Bilaal Khan, Thomas Fothergill and Ahsah Rizwah all making their First Xl debuts. Having lost our leading 2016 scorer Gareth, closely following on that of Jack Hainsworth, the resources we have retained have done everyone proud in a difficult season, one in which we have to the surprise of some, survived.

The bowling attack, whilst having no CDCL qualifiers for a second successive year, did the team proud and none more so than leading wicket taker Richard Cavender, whose 27 wickets came from 148 overs at 19.70 apiece.  Tirelessly opening the bowling, usually with Ben Howell, his consistency was a solid, reliable and successful element in Oakworth's season.  He had a best of 4-41 and his economy rate of 3.6 kept many a batsman quiet. Ben Howell bowled just 93 overs and picked up 21 wickets at 15.62 with a best of 5-39. His strike rate of 27 coupled with Economy of 3.5 marks him as amongst the best in the CDCL. More overs from Ben would surely help our climb back up the rankings? 80 overs from Jack Davison yielded 18 wickets from his rapid leg-spin [best 4-11]; but again an average of just 6 overs per match is insufficient to really make a mark for the team. James Lee might have been surprised by his frequent inclusion in the First Xl but his best of 4-31 and 13 wickets at 23.92 from 75 overs helped plug the gaps created by others. But a real gamble by including junior Bilaal Khan really produced surprise results [best 3-22] with 12 wickets at 25.75 from 65 overs to almost match more experienced Jack's returns. When pressed to bowl, Joe Copperwaite didn't let the side down and his 28 overs generated 10 wickets at a stunning 11.80 with a cracking strike rate of every 17 balls. Another junior, Harry Hollingsworth made a remarkable debut with 7-62 against Denholme, although his tally was only 21 overs before he disappointingly left the club to try his luck at Keighley CC. The loss of the left-arm option provided in 2016 by Joel Fothergill has proved a major blow and his absence has arguably been the hardest to cover. Harry might well have done that.

For some, Oakworth, 2017 has experienced a generational change with a strange feeling of old guard moving out. That is not entirely true but there is no doubt 2017 has been our most difficult season since 1993. The prospects for 2018 will naturally again depend on the make up of the squad and there is hope that one or two of our recent losses might return to the fold and strengthen all 3 teams. Without such development, there seems no option but to recruit from elsewhere as our current crop of quality youngsters are too young yet to impact at Division One level. There are hints that Michael Scarborough will stand down as Captain and so the highest priority is to determine his replacement. A number of names have been tossed into the ring but April 2018 is a long way off. Both batting [middle order] and bowling [third seamer] need attention and the new Captain will need to assess carefully what options within the club exist, before perhaps looking outside.

Looking outside the club will though be difficult as all clubs are now suffering the same difficulties experienced by Oakworth and top class players are being courted by Pyramid clubs as the pressure to succeed at that level permeates the game. CDCL provides a great start to a cricket career but suffers from loss of players to perceived 'higher level' clubs and leagues. That the CDCL is also seen as struggling is a worry and a re-alignment of clubs and leagues seems already to be underway. If CDCL can find clubs to enhance its status and profile, a higher level can maybe be fomented locally without need to move elsewhere. If Keighley, Steeton and Skipton were to join the CDCL with others such as Oxenhope, Cullingworth and maybe Earby, a move upwards might well ensue......................with a valley of clubs all working, not fragmented but together.