CHAMPIONS Cleckheaton CC are geared up for a crucial weekend at Moorend after a superb win away to second-placed Woodlands set up another key challenge in their quest to carry off a Bradford League and cup double.
The win owed much to the continued efforts of overseas man Tanzeel Altaf.
He hammered a quick-fire 56 – including one hit that cleared the houses on Cleckheaton Road! – and then took six wickets with his leg spin to secure the points and put his side 24 points clear at the top.
There is, of course, still plenty to play for, but tomorrow’s visitors, Pudsey Congs, are a shadow of the side who were such a dominant force a decade ago and are seriously at risk of relegation if their fortunes don’t change soon.
Woodlands will try to claw back some of the deficit at the top of the table when they go to Hanging Heaton.
Cleckheaton have other fish to fry on Sunday when they entertain Second Division title-chasers Undercliffe in the semi-final of the Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup.
John Wood’s Cleckheaton side are perhaps lacking one consistently outstanding performer, although last year's leading run-maker Tim Jackson was back with a top-scoring 70.
But all season they have shown the kind of resilience that almost demands an increased effort from the next man if the one before fails.
Scotland’s Iain Wardlaw was missing at Woodlands but skipper John Wood stepped up and produced, on a hot afternoon, a seemingly tireless effort with the ball.
After completing 10 overs unchanged, he came back late in the innings to wrap it up with the wicket of Adam Goldthorpe. But whatever side they put out on Sunday, Undercliffe can expect a tough ride, even allowing for their current form in Division Two.
In the other semi-final, East Bierley take on Pudsey St Lawrence at South View.
Gomersal have a chance to close the gap on their opponents at third-placed Keighley but they may still rue the loss of four penalty points, the second highest in the division, come the end of the season.
Last Saturday, Gomersal took maximum points from visitors Baildon when Adam Greenwood (65), Jon Boynton (50) and Jack Seddon (51) completed useful half centuries in a score of 255-8.
Then three wickets apiece for Joel Pollard and Chris Rhodes, and two wickets in an over from skipper Greg Pickles, reduced Baildon to 185 all out.