Oakworth Cricket Club

The 2020 season 

The 2020 season was arguably the strangest on record. It wasn't the weather and it wasn't one of poor performance; it was impacted severely by the world-wide Covid-19 Pandemic. The virulent disease reached these shores in February but changed beyond recognition the lives of everyone across the planet. A 'normal season' was on the cards and indeed the league committees for both Senior & Junior cricket had prepared their fixture programmes as in previous years. But with Government intervention and a series of safety precautions, followed by National or local lockdowns those plans were blown out of the water. It was to be Saturday 18th July before the senior Xls 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.

We left the 2019 season behind needing a new Captain and it was 33 years-old Robert Hollingsworth, who took up the reins, having enjoyed his best ever season in 2019. The club squads were for a change enhanced with the additions of Charlie Shimmin, Liam Humphreys and Josh Kiteley, all locally produced lads in their early-mid twenties. The only 2019 players not back for 2020 were Joe Copperwaite and Rick Cavender.

The opening day fixture was at close neighbours Haworth and 16 years-old Bradley Powell was promoted to the First Xl after terrific performances for the 2nd Xl in 2019. Batting first the opening pair got us off to a great start with Joel Gallegher assisting young Bradley to settle in. They added 79 runs for the 1st wicket. Both scored 39 and both were bowled, Joel by Steve Bell and Bradley by Jamie Rowell. Number 3 Harry Hollingsworth picked up a good 30 but only the skipper [12] reached double figures after that. Our 147 all out in 34.4 overs as expected was held up by Rowell with 4-27 but the 4-22 from Neil Rollins was equally crucial. Our bowling attack was led by Harry and Ellis Marshall and the Right-Left combination proved highly effective. But the real surprise packet was the form of James Lee who bowled with vigour and accuracy to claim 4-11 from his 8 overs. Coupled with a brace each for Harry and Ellis the hosts were always under pressure. The other 2 wickets fell to the flight and guile of Tom Fothergill and Haworth finished well short on 116 all out in the 30th over. Jamie Rowell also top scored with 32 and he had solid assistance from Trowers, Spencer and his brother Damien. But it was nowhere near enough to prevent our three point haul in Covid Group B, arguably the toughest of the 7 groups.

Seven days on, the visitors to Wide Lane were Ingrow, who had been struggling to retain players. Nevertheless having won the toss, their skipper Tom Tetley opted to bat first with four former Oakworth juniors in their line-up. With the score at 20-7 the decision to bat might have attracted criticism but for the second week the fine bowling of Harry and Ellis was top notch. Class Act Dan Scott halted the rot for a while making 18 before trying to hit James Lee, only to be snapped up by Ellis. The four bowlers used included Jack Davison who kept up the intensity to have Ingrow all out in the 20th over for only 35. Ellis 3-7, Harry 2-12, James 3-13 and Jack 2-3 proved irresistible. The match was all over in a further 5 overs as Lucas Kselinke [15] and Bradley [20] smashed 3 fours and 3 sixes between them to take our tally to six points.

The following two fixtures [vs Crossflatts and Cowling] were suspended by the Craven League following deteriorating infection rates in the Pendle area.

On 15th August we travelled with spirits high to Beckfoot Lane to take on the Congs, although the news that Ellis had incurred a foot injury and so would play only as a batsman for the 2nd Xl was a blow for both Ellis and the team. His place went to new boy Liam Humphreys who was re-starting his career after an 8-year gap. Congs opted to bat first but Harry soon had an early victim [Hicks] at 13-1. Harry's partner this week was rejuvenated James Lee who although wicket-less returned 0-19 from 9 very tidy overs. Tom Fothergill picked off 2 of the middle order to take Congs to 58-4 before Bradley took the key wicket of Neil Copping [12] at 102-5. Charlie Raistrick held the faltering Congs innings together with 35no but their 117-5 seemed vulnerable. Harry again stood out with 2-21 backed by 2-25 from Tom. Joel and Bradley opened up with a 45 stand before Bradley fell for 17, bowled by Broughton. Harry departed 1 run later and the skipper Rob Hollingsworth helped take the score on to 65-3 before he too was out to the same bowler for 13. His departure brought the elder Powell, Jordan to the crease and in no time the scoreboard was dizzy with added runs. Jordan smashed five 6s on his way to 41 before the inevitable catch at 109-4 and just 9 required for a third victory. Opener Joel Gallagher had remained resolute to close on 36 no with debutant Liam on 4no.

Back at Home, Haworth came over the water to try and even out our first day victory and again opted to bat first. But bowling with a buzz James Lee ripped out the first two wickets including the key scalp of Jamie Rowell., via a catch from Skipper Rob.  It was time to cue the entry of off-spin and it proved to be Tom Fothergill's day. A self-confession that he hadn't been at his best, proved at odds with the statistics as his 27 balls brought him 6 wickets for the cost of just 10 runs! Promoted 2nd Xl skipper Stuart Jackson was the Haworth top-scorer with 20 whilst no-one else made double figures. 60 all out was the outcome in 27.3 fairly turgid overs of rear-guard batting. But there was a fight-back led by elder brother Damien Rowell who grabbed the wickets of Joel, Bradley and Harry with just 12 runs on the board. Then ex-Oakworth bowler Ollie Bishop made it 12-4 with the scalp of Jordan Powell. 13 years-old James Powell teamed up with Captain Rob Hollingsworth to try and rescue our innings and maintain our unbeaten run.  With 49 needed to win the task would normally not be a problem but with the Haworth bowling tails up and a very young player at the wicket the task seemed a tad more difficult. But things are not always as they seem. A hugely mature innings by James, whose County pedigree shone through in spades, included six boundaries and his 45 ball unbeaten stay at the crease brought him 29 no. The Captain roved the ideal partner and his 20 no came from 46 balls in an uncharacteristic defensive display. Victory came at 61-4 in the 21st over, much more comfortably than had looked on the cards.

The reverse fixture with Ingrow was conceded by the Home team, who were unable to raise a team.

Having missed the away fixture at Crossflatts, our Home fixture took on greater significance in the Group title race as arguably they were our strongest opponents and indeed destined for the Bradford League in 2021. This time Oakworth opted to bat first and immediately lost opener Joel [0] caught off Shannawaz. He also removed Lucas [10] and Rob [0] to have us under the cosh at the early stages. But blossoming opener Bradley Powell remained secure and began to accumulate boundaries. He had help from Liam [7] and both Jack Davison and Harry Hollingsworth, each of whom added 21. The match turned in the wake of Bradley's magnificent six 6s and six 4s. He fell to Was Hussain for a season-best of 74 to carry the team to 145-9. Charlie Shimmin made his Oakworth debut and his 9 overs blew away the cobwebs with fair return of 0-30. But Harry Hollingsworth turned out the principal weapon as he picked off 5 wickets for 36 and, bowling in tandem with Tom Fothergill [4-37] the strong Crossflatts line up was pegged back. The final over was reached with 9 runs needed by the 'Flatts to win. But who would bowl it? Charlie, Harry and Tom had all bowled their allotted nine. The skipper opted to turn to teenager James Powell. If he had any nerves they didn't show and his excellent pace, lines and lengths kept last pair Lee Bailey and Andy Maude quiet and he conceded just 4 runs to present Oakworth with a thrilling 4 run victory. A great match for a decent socially-distanced crowd.

The fixture at Wide Lane against Cowling was conceded and Oakworth now settled into a clear lead and looked very inch prospective Group winners. The following week Bingley Congs also conceded and the Group was won! With 5 wins, 3 concessions and 2 No Results it was an unbeaten season albeit a shortened one.

Two wins against  neighbours Haworth and single wins against Bingley Congs, Crossflatts and Ingrow were the cornerstone of our successful season. The last-over nail-biting win against Crossflatts was of course pivotal in bringing skipper Rob Hollingsworth a Trophy in his first season at the helm. The bowling arguably outshone the batsmen this time around with Harry, Tom, Ellis and James L a formidable unit. With Charlie now also in the ranks, competition for bowling places is a nice position for the new Captain and augurs well for 2021, hopefully a 'normal' season. The batting was led by older-stager and former Captain Joel alongside the exciting talents of youngster Bradley, whose 74 proved the only half-century of the year. But there was also solid contributions when needed from Harry, Rob, Jack, Jordan, Lucas and of course the highly promising James Powell. Debutant Liam showed excellent touches, despite the rust, but regular cricket will surely bring great rewards. The squad is much younger than of recent and can clearly only get better as a group. Hopefully the injury to Ellis will heal well to enable him to resume his all-rounder role in the team.
The Second Xl continues to provide more and more opportunity for younger players although the limited 2020 season gave only glimpses of the range of talents in store. New lad Josh Kiteley featured in the Second Xl albeit in a limited number of appearances. With more matches in 2021 he should blossom as yet another all-rounder. Latecomer Akeel Umar looks to have the bowling skills to progress with more matches. The leg-spin of Charlie Raby continues to attract plaudits whilst the all-round skills of Jake Keslinke are being finely honed under the expert tutelage of Michael Scarborough. Elis Jones switch to pace bowling is yet to prove totally successful but the signs are there, as indeed is his middle order batting prowess. Jacob Davies too is benefitting from regular run outs with the Third Xl and is only a fraction adrift of the other juniors. Waleed Raja is now accumulating experience as a relative newcomer but there are good signs there too.

At under-13 the squad is inexperienced in comparison to the previous two or three years, but nevertheless progress is being made and Tom Raby, Asim Khan, Mohammed Saad, Haroon Raja and Jack Judson have all shown glimpses of form and should make great strides in 2021. The under-11s squad too has plenty of talent and should continue to fuel the club talent pool.