By Jamie Harrison, media secretary, Huddersfield Cricket League

Conference promotion hopefuls Lepton Highlanders came within a whisker of one of the biggest cup upsets in decades when they fell just one run short against Premiership leaders Thongsbridge. 

Delph & Dobcross turned the Premiership form book on its head by dumping out Armitage Bridge but they were made to survive a nervy finish when a clatter of wickets fell as they approached their target. 

It was plain sailing elsewhere for most clubs booking their passage through to the second round with two matches falling victim to the previous day’s weather.

‘Never Say Die’ Lepton Push Thongsbridge To The Wire

Lepton Highlanders made a mockery of gulf that divides themselves and top-flight table toppers Thongsbridge as they threatened to pull off the biggest shock in decades. 

There will be plenty of room for optimism to carry into their promotion campaign from this showing, where they knocked Thongsbridge onto the back foot first, before recovering themselves against all odds to eventually fall short by a single run. 

The hosts, missing prolific opener Ben Raven-Hill, although this shouldn’t take anything away from the Conference club’s efforts, faced a perilous position after electing to bat first. 

The entire upper order all misfired as Lepton’s bowlers hunted in packs; the hosts hobbling somewhat to 67-6 before their strength in depth began to bear fruit. 

Ben Howitt’s fifty became the lynchpin in a recovery which saved an embarrassing exit as the more illustrious opponents began to then get on top. Howitt (51) and David Wagstaff (28*) combined to punish Lepton’s tiring bowlers as they set a target of 204-9. 

Lepton may have recalled a distant experience as they fell agonisingly short in an eerily similar fixture at Shepley during a quarter final match in 2012. 

Their efforts in this game would appear even more astounding given the compromising position the hosts thrust them into after falling to 21-4, then 41-5 before it looked a foregone conclusion at 77-6. 

Typically, Conference outfits would usually wilt under pressure – 27 league placings separate the two teams – but a 96-run partnership, driven by the magnificent efforts of Adeel Ashraf (63), threatened a different outcome. 

With former Saltaire batsman Ashraf out, Matt Townsend (44) started to take the game to Thongsbridge with a superbly dogged performance.13-runs from the penultimate over took it to a thrilling final six balls with four runs required and two wickets remaining. 

Two singles kept nerves close to shattering until home bowler Alex Kemp broke through by taking out the final pair in consecutive balls. Jacob Mulhall’s battling side ought to return to league action (and a concurrent Oddfellows Cup campaign) with a sense of pride. 

Thongsbridge skipper Kemp on the other hand, will perhaps suffer a night or two of interrupted sleep.

Taylor Hattrick Fails To Stop Delph’s Momentum

Joshua Taylor, Armitage Bridge’s Australian import took a hattrick for his new club but it didn’t stop Delph & Dobcross powering through to the second round. 

Much of the damage to in-form Bridge had already been afflicted in a first innings where three-time Sykes Cup winners Delph caught the hosts on the hop with a dominating bowling performance. Umer Yaqoob (4-19) was in blistering form in a straight 8-over spell the home batsmen couldn’t live with. Rizwan Ali (2-23) continued his impressive start with his best bowling performance to date as Delph tormented Jaycub Curtling’s side on an afternoon where every catch on offer stuck. 

The visitors were well positioned to complete a simple victory in knocking off the home team’s poor 82ao until tempers flared momentarily after the first wicket.

However this served merely to fire up Armitage Bridge who were regretting not being able to add on at least 30 or 40 more runs to make the contest interesting. Taylor (4-23) is a professional golfer in his main job, but he produced a sparkling spell to dump Xander Selby’s team in the rough with a hat trick that removed top scorer Hasan Hussain (30), Selby himself and then the incoming Ali as Delph’s remaining batsmen scrambled for equipment. 

A brilliant run out by Musa Ahmed was then followed by Yaqoob skying one to point to leave Delph sweating at 75-7 with 9 runs still to get. 

15-year old Lucas Selby displayed ice-cold nerves to pierce the field with a four that virtually won the match resulting in Delph scampering home on 83-7 at the end of a terrific match.

Holders Swaine Flash Their T20 Muscle

In a match reduced to 20 overs, current Sykes Cup holders Hoylandswaine showed precisely why they will take some stopping after Slaithwaite were rendered powerless to prevent their first round exit from the competition. 

Only 26 overs were played in total as the hosts struggled to a 89-8 total batting first on a ground where Hoylandswaine have some happy memories in the shorter formats having lifted the T20 Trophy here in 2018. Arron Lilley (3-10) opportunistically hoovered up three Slaithwaite wickets and the visitors wasted no time by overhauling the modest total in only 40 balls. 

Chris Holliday needed no invitation to hit hard with the pressure dialled down and he obliged by striking over 85% of his team’s total runs with an intimidating 78 from 30 balls, hitting 10 fours and 6 sixes on the way to a 93-1 reply.

Moorlands Own Bragging Rights As They Oust Local Rivals Parish

Moorlands defeated nearby Premiership rivals Mirfield Parish Cavaliers by overhauling the visitors 149ao total, responding with 152-2. No scorecard was available at the time of publication.

Marsden Muzzled By Golcar In Colne Valley Fixture

Golcar captain Jack McNamara enjoyed a pleasing return to his former pastures as his side made the short journey to easily book his side’s place in round two. 

The 2008 winners may feel this season’s trophy could be one to challenge for having already lifted the T20 Trophy last season under McNamara’s tutelage. 

Will Hinchliffe (3-28) picked his 8th wicket up of the season as Golcar controlled this 30 over match as the hosts put up 111-7. Max Berry (24) and Asif Hussain (22) were the Cuckoos’ top scorers. Jimmy Howson is in superb form and added another half-century with a precise 50 from the same number of balls to set up the win. Steve Whitwam (29no) anchored the visitors who took just 19.3 overs to reply with 115-2.

Harsh Lessons For Clayton West, Put Out By Barkisland 

Clayton West let slip a decent position to let Premiership Barkisland dominate the match in a tough lesson for Alex Clegg’s Championship team. 

They lost the final six wickets for only 18 runs to finish 105ao after Cameron Van Rensburg and Adam Scott (3-27) took charge. Barkisland, who have lifted the cup twice in their two decades long Huddersfield League stay made it into round two by completing a routine victory. 

Harry Finch (35no) dropped anchor before Luke Bridges hammered an unbeaten 30 runs in 19 balls as Barkisland replied with 107-2 at the halfway point of their innings.

Holmfirth Victorious In Clash Of Former Giants

Two former brooding giants of Sykes Cup folklore bumped heads with Holmfirth emerging victorious over Elland. 

The teams, with 23 cup wins between them, met in three consecutive finals in the seventies (‘75, ‘76, ‘77) but those days are now faded memories with both sides currently living life in the Championship. Elland were wasteful batting first after failing to build on a good start as they slipped up from 151-4 to a reachable 175ao. 

Amar Rashid (4-24) was the main cause of this despite Faisal Javed’s 73 for the visitors. Holmfirth had their own suspect start when they lost two early wickets at 28-2. Max Gummerson’s 91 in 114 balls (8 fours, 1 six) cemented their second round place as Holmfirth made it home on 178-4 with three overs to play.

France On Fire As Broad Oak Dump Out Emley Clarence

Adam France took five wickets on his return to action after an 8-day rest as Conference side Emley Clarence’s fine league form deserted them. 

They were dismissed for 66 with the final five Emley wickets falling for only 8 runs, Adam Taylor (22) with the top score. Six time winners Oak refreshed the batting order to offer a bit of batting time to others normally in the middle order and Sean Mee (37no) was the main beneficiary opening the batting as Oak won at a canter with 70-4.

Taylor Torments Former Team After Honley Book Worry-Free Passage

Timmy Taylor came up against the team he cut his teeth with in Huddersfield cricket; Lascelles Hall but there was no room for sentiment as he plotted the downfall of his former club. Lascelles Hall were under the cosh for most of this match as Taylor (4-8) shone with the ball. 

No10 Jack Mulhall (30) pushed the score on a little but the 101-9 put up by the visitors wasn’t too much of an ask for Honley, searching for a first Sykes Cup since their dominant days of the noughties. Simon Kelly (56no) bookended the win with a third half-century in four matches. 

Eddie Wilson (32) helped bring the match to its inevitable conclusion as Honley raced to 104-3 in just 16 overs.

Kirkburton Up To Almondbury Wesleyans Challenge

Premiership Kirkburton answered any questions visitors Almondbury Wesleyans could pose as they outmuscled their opponents in an intriguing fixture. 

It provided a decent acid test for Will Binns team, who have started the season perfectly to lead the Championship but they came up short here. Kirkburton frittered away a promising start batting first as they went from 123-3 to 174ao. 

Andy Smith (55) registered a second fifty of the season for ‘Burton with Ash Smith (3-31) top bowler and Wesleyans were equally as profligate in reply. Tom Burkinshaw (3-19) and Jack Byrne (3-21) tilted the balance firmly the home team’s way as Wes crashed from 96-4 to 119ao. 

Kirkburton last won the competition 18 years ago and have made tracks in a bid to do so again this time round.

Rastrick Crushed By Collapse At Shepley

Rastrick couldn’t emulate their 2019 upset at Armitage Bridge as they were soundly thrashed by ten wickets at Marsh Lane against Shepley. Numan Akbar (3-18) and youngster Josh Hoyle (3-18) were the pick of the tormenting bowlers as Rastrick drastically subsided from 25-1 to 35-6. 

They eventually limped to 67ao which left Shepley openers Tom Barber (27no) and Tom Chadwick (36no) the easy task of seeing home a win and place in the second round. Shepley have been in more finals than any other side in the last decade but it’s been 2011 since they last tasted success.

Meltham Convince At Home To Bower

Another wet ground rendere d this match to 20 overs per side and current T20 Shield holders Meltham have a fine recent record in the shorter format ran out easy victors against their Conference-dwelling opponents. 

Both clubs are rich with history but have spent much of the last few decades looking up rather than down. Harry Bissett’s 43 from 27 balls set the tone for Hall Bower but Rob Moulson (3-28) but the skids on the visitors getting away as they were held to 126-8. Khuram Sajjad (46) kept up the tempo for Meltham who welcomed back captain Alex Clegg. His brother, 

Sam scored 31 runs to set up the win as the hosts responded with 127-5.

Thurstonland Forget League Woes To Take Out Almondbury

Leo Corley (70) and Russell Mottram (74no) combined with an intoxicating batting performance to put behind them their winless league form to add to Almondbury’s worries who are themselves yet to win. 

Thurstonland from the Championship put too much on the board against their Conference opponents by setting 217-3 to win in a 35 over match. Almondbury were 9-4 in reply before stumbling further to 27-5 under the pressure from bowlers Lee Booth (4-29) and Jordan Thackray (3-17). Dave Rishton (3-17) wrapped up a welcome win as they dismissed the visitors for 85.

Rain Affected

Two matches failed to start with Denby Dale v Scholes and Skelmanthorpe v Mirfield to be completed on the reserve date of Sunday 16th May.