In a stunning turn of events, Blackley Cricket Club is defying all odds and mounting an impressive comeback in the Halifax Cricket League. With only seven matches remaining, they have gone from seemingly doomed for relegation in the Premier Division to breathing down the necks of the third-placed Oxenhope, Triangle, and Sowerby Bridge teams. Blackley’s second consecutive victory, this time by 21 runs against Sowerby Bridge, has brought them within a mere 10 points of Oxenhope.
During the thrilling match at Sowerby Bridge, Blackley set a challenging target of 213-9 while batting first. Sam Mindham played a pivotal role in their success with an impressive 71 runs, despite Jake Dixon’s commendable bowling performance, taking 4-51. In response, the home team struggled to rally, with the exception of John Brown, who scored 56 runs. Blackley’s Jonathan Stenson was instrumental in restricting Sowerby Bridge to 192-7, claiming four wickets for 63 runs.
Meanwhile, at Mytholmroyd, the home team also put pressure on the teams above them by comfortably defeating SBCI by 48 runs. Batting first, Mytholmroyd scored 190 all out, with notable contributions from Jack Earle (50), Jacob Travis (46), and skipper Matthew Scholefield (37). SBCI, in their attempt to chase the target, faltered and managed only 142 all out, with Rishav Tandon’s 5-30 going in vain. James Summerscales’ 41 runs provided some resistance against Taufeeq Ahmed (5-33) and the other bowlers.
The highlight of the day was Rob Laycock’s brilliant display at Booth, where he scored a career-best 167 not out against Triangle. Laycock’s magnificent innings included an impressive 136 runs from boundaries (13 fours and 14 sixes) and came in just 123 balls. With Jarred Moore adding 51 runs, Blackley set a formidable target of 287-5. Triangle fought valiantly in response, with Nathan Madden (59) and James Callighan (43) leading the charge. However, Patrick Thomas’ bowling prowess (4-37) ensured that they were limited to 231 all out.
At Illingworth St. Mary’s, Oxenhope seemed to be in a favorable position during the tea interval, having bowled out the home team for a modest 135, thanks to Lewis Hopkinson’s impressive figures of 4-21. However, the tables turned dramatically as St. Mary’s was resolute in its response, dismissing Oxenhope for a mere 83. Jack Hargreaves (4-12) and Jamie Moorhouse (4-30) spearheaded the bowling attack, ensuring a comfortable victory with only three Oxenhope batters reaching double-figure scores.
Meanwhile, league leaders Thornton continued their dominant run, securing a convincing six-wicket victory at home against Copley. Copley, choosing to bat first, managed to post 171 all out, with Craig Chew’s resilient 57 runs as the standout performance against Bradley Weatherhead’s impressive bowling figures of 5-45. However, the target was no challenge for Thornton’s formidable batting lineup, led by Nikki Hutchinson (54 not out), Josh Hutchinson (44), and Grant Soames (40), as they reached 174-4 in just 31.2 overs.
In contrast, early championship contenders Bradshaw suffered another setback, losing by a significant margin of 120 runs at home to Luddendenfoot. Batting first, Luddendenfoot posted a commanding 272-7, with Isaac Baldwin (71), Graham Kinsey (58 not out), and Jacob Whitehouse (43) leading the charge. Bradshaw’s response faltered, with only Michael Hustler (43) showing any form, resulting in a disappointing all-out score of 152, with all five Luddendenfoot bowlers contributing to the wicket tally.
As the season progresses, the Halifax Cricket League continues to be full of surprises and intense competition, making for an exhilarating battle to the finish line.