Yorkshire league round-up: Brad Schmulian out of quarantine to fire Woodlands to Bradford title

TOWNVILLE pushed all the way to the finishing post, but it still wasn’t enough to land them the Gordon Rigg Bradford Premier League Premier Division title.

Woodlands with the Bradford League Premier Division trophy after the win at New Farnley. Picture: Ray Spencer

The Castleford-based club castled strugglers Batley for 85, with the league’s leading wicket-takers Conor Harvey (6-43) and Jack Hughes (3-19) again to the fore.

It wasn’t easy for Townville either when they replied as they lost opener Jonny Booth to the third ball of the innings and were 62-6 but were fittingly seen home by Hughes (24no) and Harvey (15no) without further loss.

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Then the focus switched to New Farnley, who, like Townville, had also chased Woodlands long and hard over the course of the campaign.

Woodlands captain Cieran Garner with the Bradford League Premier Division trophy after the win at New Farnley. Picture: Ray Spencer

Visitors Woodlands made 228, and about half of those runs came from Brad Schmulian (112), whose return to New Zealand had been delayed by a positive Coronavirus test.

He should have gone home a fortnight ago but instead had to isolate, coming out of his 10-day quarantine to hit 15 fours in what proved to be a match-winning knock by the man who will replace Cieran Garner as captain next season.

Gurman Randhawa, as he has so often been, was the pick of the New Farnley bowlers with 3-54, but it was Woodlands’ spin duo of Chris Brice and Kez Ahmed who then took centre stage as they have so often done in 2021.

Brice bagged 4-25 and Ahmed 4-41 as New Farnley were dismissed for 154, despite Steve Bullen making 61 not out and Adam Waite 35.

Brad Schmulian of Woodlands who scored a century as Woodlands beat New Farnley to win the Premier Division. Picture: Steve Riding

Woodlands therefore not only gained revenge for their Heavy Woollen Cup final defeat of three weekends ago but also lifted their eighth Bradford League title – this time by 11 points from Townville, who were also the bridesmaids in the Priestley Cup final last weekend to New Farnley.

The Oakenshaw club must now travel to Yorkshire Southern Premier League champions Appleby Frodingham next Saturday in a Yorkshire Premier Leagues’ Championship semi-final.

The defeat by Townville confirmed Batley’s relegation, and going down with them were Morley (promoted alongside them in 2019), despite a last-day victory over Cleckheaton.

Morley made 119, but Matt Dowse (6-42) and Nathan Bromby (4-35) then dismissed Cleckheaton for 84.

The victors ended the season seven points behind Wrenthorpe, who were victims of Hanging Heaton in what was an emotional day for the latter club as they said goodbye to four players who have been such a key part of their recent successes – Gary Fellows, Nick Connolly, Joe Fraser and David Stiff.

Only Fraser, dismissed for one, failed to play a part in the 150-run victory, with Fellows scoring 32, becoming the club’s all-time leading run-scorer, Stiff taking 3-63 and Connolly scoring 177 not out, which included nine sixes and 18 fours.

Pudsey St Lawrence all-rounder James Smith also signed off in style, scoring 73 and taking 2-1 as Bradford & Bingley were beaten by 179 runs.

Meanwhile, Ossett took the Division One title, while Bankfoot only need one point from their final match against Carlton to join them in the top flight.

With Castleford crowned as Yorkshire Premier League North champions last weekend, the focus in that league turned to the other end of the table, and the key contest was between Driffield Town and Stamford Bridge.

Hosts Town elected to bat, and with opener Sam Drury (62) and Randeera Ranasingha (65) putting on 98 for the fourth wicket, were able to put scoreboard pressure on their visitors by totalling 260, of which Nick Hargrave made 51.

Fifth bowler Rhys Crowe took 7-53 but personal glory turned to collective disappointment as Stamford Bridge were dismissed for 248 to be the only side relegated, despite the efforts of Martin Woodliffe (64), Jack Timby (58), Salman Syed (41) and Simon Dwyer (35no) as Drury took 4-54.

Harrogate, also in the demotion picture before wickets were pitched, were indebted to captain William Bates (90no), Henry Thompson (69) and Ishan Abeysekara (4-55) as they gained the win they needed over York to ensure survival.

Abeysekara was the only bowler to take more than 50 wickets in the league in 2021.

It was a day of narrow finishes in the Yorkshire Southern Premier League.

Elsecar defeated Sheffield Collegiate by one run, Appleby Frodingham beat Whitley Hall by four runs, and Barnsley triumphed by one wicket at Treeton.

In the Huddersfield League, Premiership leaders Hoylandswaine won a high-scoring contest at Barkisland, with Chris Holliday (107), SP Singh (94) and Shakeel Ansar (64) leading the way for the front-runners.

Meanwhile, in the Airedale & Wharfedale League, Tom Starkey-inspired Olicanian defeated champions Saltaire by four wickets but they have still been relegated alongside Horsforth.

Starkey took 4-30 opening the bowling as Saltaire were restricted to 161 and then scored 76 opening the batting.