CLECKHEATON skipper John Wood became ‘captain fantastic’ at Batley as he led his side to their first, albeit excruciatingly precarious, win of the season by one solitary run when he came in at 17-1 and held the Cleckheaton innings together.
Wickets continued to fall around him, Muhammed Shanawaz taking 4-56, but Wood just stayed there – not just holding everything together but slowly increasing the run rate until he was eighth out with 122 out of 225 and the final batting point in the bag. How precious that point proved to be.
With 13 fours and four sixes Wood went on to achieve something he never did in over 100 first class games for Durham and Lancashire – a superb century.
On 99, and going well, he pulled a ball to the square leg boundary, straight to Muhammed Abubakar Khan, but the Batley man appeared to casually go for it one-handed and promptly dropped the chance.
Coming off after his marathon spell at the crease he said: “Well, I won’t be doing any bowling today!” But he was wrong.
As Batley steadily closed in on Cleckheaton’s 234 for eight they needed only three to win off the final over with two wickets still in hand. At that point Wood stepped up to the mark again and took the ball for the last over of the match.
Batley skipper Tariq Hussain, who had just come in, was then caught off Wood by Nick Lindley, last man Huzaifah Patel snatched a single to give top scoring Khan the strike with two balls to go and three needed for victory.
Khan hit the ball into the deep and, having run one quickly, he put his head down and raced for the second.
But Joe Robinson fielded the ball and fired it into the batting end where Mally Nicholson completed a match-winning run-out.
Tomorrow, in important games affecting the bottom half of the table, Cleckheaton are back in action at home to Pudsey Congs while Batley go to East Bierley in another attempt to break their duck.
In tomorrow’s top games, unbeaten Hanging Heaton entertain unbeaten Woodlands in what is undoubtedly the match of the day in the Premier Division.
Hanging Heaton maintained their 100 per cent start but a fine 147 from Simon Lambert put them under pressure at New Farnley and it was only a battling 110 from skipper Gary Fellows, a hard-hitting 68 from Callum Geldart and a decisive 27 from 17 balls courtesy of Ishy Dawood that saw the Dewsbury side home with three balls to spare.
Scholes’ resounding 201 run win over Bankfoot at New Popplewell Lane keeps them joint top of Championship 1 as they prepare for a trip to Baildon tomorrow while Birstall are at home to joint leaders Methley, Gomersal are at Yeadon and Ossett go to Bankfoot.
Championship 2 leaders Hartshead Moor have made a superb start with Craig Field (70) and former Yorkshire paceman Iain Wardlaw (5-30) producing key performances in the seven-wicket win at home to Hunslet Nelson ahead of tomorrow’s top-four clash at Keighley.
Liversedge and Spen Victoria are at home to Buttershaw St Paul’s and Lower Hopton respectively in the other Championship 2 games affecting the district.
Heckmondwike and Carlinghow made it four wins from four with a 52 run success against East Leeds and they now take on Adwalton at Cemetry Road tomorrow.
In the same division struggling Crossbank are at home to Rodley still looking for their first win.