Cleckheaton hold nerve to clinch title

Cleckheaton with the  JCT600 Bradford League Div 1 Trophy' JCT600 Bradford League
Cleckheaton with the JCT600 Bradford League Div 1 Trophy' JCT600 Bradford League

Celebrations went on long into Saturday night after Cleckheaton clinched the JCT600 Bradford League Division One title for the first time.

It proved to be a dramatic final day in the title race as both Cleckheaton and second placed Pudsey St Lawrence suffered defeats but John Wood’s man had done enough to secure a first championship crown.

Cleckheaton travelled to local rivals Woodlands, champons in six of the previous eight seasons, needing just four points to secure the title.

They were without opening bowler Iain Wardlaw, on international duty with Scotland, and overseas player Ammar Mahmood, who had returned home.

Cleckheaton only managed to claim four Woodlands wickets, thus earning two bonus points, as Simon Mason (68), Sam Frankland (34) and Grant Soames (33) led the home side to 202-4.

Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale, who played for Cleckheaton against Manningham Mills earlier in the season, watched his clubmates from the sidelines along with England star Tim Bresnan.

Cleckheaton nerves really set in when news filtered through to Woodlands thatPudsey St Lawrence had recovered from 154-6 at Lightcliffe to take maximum batting points with James Smith making 61 in a total of 232-8.

Cleckheaton went into bat, knowing they required 150 to claim the two batting points required for the title but they slipped to 55-3.

Second team captain Chrisb Dobson had completed 1,000 runs the previous week and was promoted to the firsts.

Dobson held his nerve to make 37 and supported Tim Jackson, who passed 1,000 runs by making 67.

However, there was another dramatic twist in the title race when Lightcliffe slipped to 173-8 as St Lawrence appeared on the verge of victory.

Mamood Rassol struck 29 off 14 balls to put Lightcliffe back in the hunt and Cleckheaton spectators and players were huddled around league chief executive David Young’s ipad checking on the action at Lightcliffe.

The Cleckheaton faithful were left celebrating when it emerged Lightcliffe had scrambled to a one-wicket win with two balls to spare and the Moorenders were champions.

With the pressure off, Richard Whitehurst hit an unbeaten 49 that took the total to 185-5 and although they ended 17 runs short of victory, it did little to dampen the celebrations as Cleckheaton dashed back to Moorend to receive the championship trophy from league officials.