In Division One of the Bradford Cricket League, there was no shortage of excitement at both ends of the table. Cleckheaton missed out on the opportunity to clinch the title as they succumbed to an eight-wicket defeat against Birstall, a team fighting desperately to avoid relegation.

Meanwhile, Baildon and Sandal secured victories in their bid to steer clear of relegation, joining East Ardsley in the battle to remain in Division One.

Cleckheaton still has a chance to secure the top spot by gaining nine points in their upcoming weekend fixture against East Ardsley.

Birstall emerged as deserving victors in a match at Moorend where they managed to dismiss the league leaders for 165 runs. Only Iain Wardlaw (43) and Waleed Akhtar (38) made any significant impact against the impressive bowling of Henry Pearson (4-40) and Andrew Robertson (3-53). An unbroken partnership of 108 runs between Henry Pearson (53no) and Rishi Limbechaya (52no) secured a crucial win for Birstall.

Despite defeating East Ardsley by nine wickets and amassing a maximum of 20 points, Baildon remains in the bottom two. Jamin Barron-Toop (4-35) and Sam Kelly (3-26) played pivotal roles in dismissing East Ardsley for 103. George Barker (42) and James Ford (34no) led Baildon to victory.

Sandal improved their chances of avoiding relegation as they found themselves in a tight battle to stay in Division One. They faced a challenging situation when they were bowled out for 119, with Brandon Hewlett contributing 38 runs and Sanaullah Khan taking 6-52. However, a spirited comeback led by Kasun Madushanka (6-25) and Michael Carroll (4-29) resulted in Carlton being bowled out for a mere 54 runs. This outcome meant that Carlton now sits only five points above the relegation zone.

As we head into Sunday’s fixtures, a mere 15 points separate six teams from Yeadon in sixth place to second-bottom Baildon. Carlton will face Yeadon, Sandal will visit Baildon, and Gomersal will host Birstall in three pivotal matches. Yeadon has 201 points, while Sandal, Gomersal, Birstall, Carlton, and Baildon have 200, 200, 200, 191, and 186 points, respectively.

Undercliffe, in second place, is still not assured of promotion despite a six-wicket victory over Gomersal. Australian batter Fergus McKenna, with 41 runs, became the third player this season to surpass 1,000 league runs in Gomersal’s disappointing total of 156. Jonathan Boynton (40) made a significant contribution, while Zeeshan Qasim claimed 4-48. Ben Morley, Undercliffe’s top run-scorer, led them to victory with 57 runs. Undercliffe needs 24 points from their remaining two games to secure promotion, as third-placed Morley continues to fight on.

Morley also secured maximum points with an 81-run win over East Bierley. Despite the departure of their overseas player Ali Usman, Joel Murnan (5-69) and Gordon Thomson (4-63) excelled in bowling as East Bierley was dismissed for 220 in response to Morley’s 301-8. Dwayne Heke (53) and Umar Abbas (32) were the standout batters for East Bierley, while James McNichol (82), Jack Rowett (57), and Henry Rush (30) led the way for Morley. Spinner Tom Burton returned figures of 4-74.

Afghan bowler Nisar Totakhil was the standout performer with 4-45 as Batley bowled out Yeadon for 119, securing a 90-run victory. Adeel Ashraf (47no) was the top scorer for Yeadon but lacked support. An unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 77 runs between Roheil Hussain (49no) and Kasir Maroof (37) built on the earlier efforts of Arbaab Hussain (45) to propel Batley to a total of 209-6.