ON THE FINAL day of Central Yorkshire League season, BIRSTALL, BATLEY and NORTHOWRAM FIELDS managed to remarkably ward off the threat of relegation from the Premier Division.
So often, it appears, players manage to prove there is no substitute for experience in sport and two men stood out in what was an afternoon of high drama.
At Birstall, visitors Altofts were also in the relegation mix.
Just one point would have been enough to secure Altofts' safety and with Birstall struggling for runs and wickets, in recent weeks, the home side were under the cosh.
Their problems were compounded by the absence of Saif UrRehman – their numberone.
In the event a useful total of 235 was posted, James Byrne hitting 85 off 62 balls in the middle order, giving bowlers something to go at.
But Altofts quickly moved to 49 inside 10 overs and only had to avoid being bowled out in order to take the point they needed for topflight survival.
It was a huge task for Birstall, who had managed to take 10 wickets only three times this season. But, enter club coach Paul Blakeley – a man for a crisis if ever there was one.
Playing his inaugural firstteam game of the season, the 48yearold veteran bowled 15 overs, leaking only 29 runs, and snapped up two wickets in the process, including the vital first breakthrough.
Kevin Watson took five wickets for Birstall but the stranglehold Blakeley put on the batsman paved the way for Watson's success. Altofts were all out for 175 and left facing the prospect of secondtier cricket next season.
Northowram's Mark Gilliver (45) has enjoyed a hugely successful career in club cricket but this has been a season to forget for a man with almost 16,000 Bradford League runs behind him.
The former Liversedge batsman has had scant success this summer with less than 200 runs prior to the final game against New Farnley.
It was not a game Northowram were expected to win but Gilliver launched a blistering attack on the Farnley, bowling to hit 135 in a total of 293 for six, including 12 sixes, and put on 168 for the third wicket with Rob Larner (74).
With such a huge total to chase, New Farnley were never at the races and Northowram galloped to safety, collecting six points.
Such a total virtually guaranteed the point needed for them to stay up, but it was a different story at Batley, who also avoided the drop by beating Carlton by just a 39run margin, after a topscoring 62 from Naweed Ghany and four wickets for 33 runs courtesy of Huzaifa Patel.
Huddersfield Leaguebound MOORLANDS became Division One champions by two points – ahead of OSSETT – after setting Scholes 218 to win and then bowling them out for 39 with a six wickets for 17 runs return from Andrew Walker.
Ossett, regardless, are promoted.