Bairstow produces batting masterclass

Yorkshire captain Andrew Aale with Bradford League's Gary Fellows.
Yorkshire captain Andrew Aale with Bradford League's Gary Fellows.
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England star Jonny Bairstow produced a masterclass in Twenty20 batting on Monday night, smashing 141 not out from just 59 balls.

County Champions Yorkshire sent a full strength squad to Pudsey Congs as the Vikings took on a Bradford League select team in the JCT600 Challenge — forming part of Rich Pyrah’s benefit.

Pyrah, Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale, Alex Lees and Adil Rashid have all played in the Bradford League during their careers, while wicketkeeper Andrew Hodd currently plays for New Farnley when not on county duty and up and coming prospect Jordan Thompson is at Pudsey St Lawrence.

It was a chance for supporters, young and old, to witness Yorkshire playing on a club ground against some of the finest club cricketers in the county.

Many spectators had attended hoping to get a first glimpse of stellar signing Glenn Maxwell in action and although the Australian World Cup winner didn’t take to the field, Bairstow more than made up for his absence with a splendid knock.

Bairstow smashed an incredible 14 sixes, many peppering neighbouring houses, as he blazed 141 not out from just 59 balls and provided great entertainment for the large crowd.

Former Lightcliffe batsman Lees (46) shared a third-wicket stand of 129 with Bairstow after Yorkshire had been reduced to 18-2 with the wickets of Hodd and Cleckheaton favourite Gale.

Pyrah, who had Bradford League spells with Woodlands and Cleckheaton, weighed in with 21 as he added 51 for the fifth wicket with Bairstow and the Vikings finished their 20 overs on 236-5. The Bradford League is arguably the strongest in the county and one of the top leagues in England and they earned immense credit by posting 190-8 in reply against a Yorkshire attack which included Tim Bresnan and Liam Plunkett.

Hanging Heaton’s Gary Fellows and Callum Geldart, of hosts Pudsey Congs, put on 36 for the first wicket before the latter holed out from the swift bowling of England paceman Plunkett.

Former Yorkshire player Fellows made a positive 36, from 23 balls, including one lovely cover drive boundary off Plunkett, before he lofted a catch to Thompson off leg spinner Rashid.

Suleman Khan was chosen as the Bradford League’s overseas player and the Lightcliffe man made a brisk 47 from 24 balls with five sixes and two fours before lofting Pyrah into the hands of Lees.

Of the local contingent playing for the Bradford League, Hanging Heaton all-rounder David Stiff claimed the wickets of Jack Leeming and Pyrah on his way to 2-47.

Batting at no4, Stiff clattered a huge six out of the ground before he was caught by Hodd off the bowling of Thompson.

Cleckheaton’s Curtis Free returned 0-38 from three overs and ended 13 not out from six balls.

Cleckheaton wicketkeeper Mally Nicholson hit two fours in his 14 from 12 balls.

For those fortunate to witness Bairstow’s brilliant century, the night will live long in the memory and it is full credit to Jason Gillespie and the Yorkshire staff for sending a full strength side and making a great spectacle for the several hundred strong crowd.

Double page spread of pictures from the game, plus what the players said in this week’s Batley News, Dewsbury Reporter and Spenborough Guardian.