Oakworth Cricket Club 2023 Third Xl


Having played our final season in the Craven League on Sundays, we naturally entered the Halifax Sunday League for 2023 with a mixture of excitement and intrigue. It would prove to be a completely different animal to the CDCL for our Third XI as seemingly many teams were specific Sunday players rather than as at Oakworth a mixture of mature players with up-and-coming youngsters gaining senior cricket experience.

Our squad on paper at least was numerous with yet more juniors becoming eligible to add to the experienced regulars Keith [Captain], Sultan, Taariq, Dave, Amin and Steve C. Our first match would include likely 2nd XI players Charlie Shimmin and Jimmy Lee. Louis Stephens, Elis Jones, Asim Khan, Mohammed Saad, Dawud Shahzad, Logan Scarborough and Ollie Thompson would provide the younger options.

A Home match on St Georges' Day signalled the start of our new adventure against Stainland CC, a one-tam only club. Skipper Keith won the toss and elected to field. An early wicket for 1st change Louis Stephens at 28-1 heralded a productive second wicket stand of 41 which threatened to take the advantage from our opening bowling spells from Charlie S and Jimmy. Elis got in on the act with a third at 69-3 to apply the pressure to Stainland. But when pace gave way to spin the procession of wickets accelerated such that Stainland were all out in the 37th over for just 112. They had been "Khaned" by Sultan 3-16 and Taariq 3-19. The chase was not straight forward  as at 25-3 we were most definitely in a competitive match. The situation was rectified when Charlie [20] supported a well constructed fifty from Elis [55 no]. We wrapped up the full points [20] at 1113-5 in the 36th over. The following week we would travel the same journey in reverse to Stainland! Once again Stainland batted first after Keith again inserted them. A significantly different team from Stainland built their total around Amol Singh who steadily accumulated 66 no before his team's innings concluded after 35.5 overs at 122-6. Three of those six wickets fell to the promise of Dawud for just 19 runs in 9 overs to show that his inaugural 2022 opportunities had been well learned. With the bat Saad remained as solid as ever with 20 from 74 balls but at 58-2 after 23 overs the match was ended by the weather with Amin also not out on 10. We gained 7 points with 6 going to Stainland.

Next up was a journey to Rastrick IIIs in the round-robin format Rod Warhurst Shield competition, where our bubble was to burst. On a roll won the toss again and once more asked the home side to bat. A ninety run opening shattered any illusions that insertion "never failed!" The stand came from Swann [67] and Hunt [35] who had to retire with injury but once broken, the Rastrick middle order collapsed in teh face of an eventual Five-for for Logan [5-39] whose off-spin bamboozled almost all their batters. After their 40 overs the tally did each 163-7 primarily with a late knock of 32 not out from no 7 Syed Shah. But our batting line-up including just 3 juniors [Tom, Asim and Logan] failed miserably to be all out for 67. Amin made 25 from 78 balls and keeper Stuart another 20 but the rest added only 11 to go with 11 extras. In the same competition we again had to play Stainland. And again not surprisingly Keith opted to field first. Amol Singh again led their batters with 53 but this time he had much more support from his mates. Birch [36], Khaliq [31] and Proctor [25] in particular enable them to reach 198-9, a different chase would be required despite 4-49 from Elis, 2-34 from Asim and 2-30 from Taariq. Again with just 3 juniors in the line-up which included Paul this week, the batting failed to get nearer than 75 runs in a 118 all out tally against a team already defeated twice. Sultan opened with 27 and Amin added 24 with 16 from Paula dn15 from Elis as the major contributors. The thirs Shield game vs Lightcliffe IVs as conceded to us but we were out of the competition.

Into June and the next match was Rastrick IIIs at Home!  Keith lost the toss for the first time this season and the visitors opted to bat first. Their openers posted 77 before being parted by Sultan. Chairman Michael joined his son in the line up and bowled 7 overs taking 1-39. Logan by contrast again excelled with 3-20 from his 8 overs. But wickets were hard to come by as Swann [9], Middleton [40] and Dakin with an unbeaten 62 pushed their tally to 188-5. But our brittle batting again slumped to a disastrous 43-6 after Rhys Curnick demolished the top three. Michael dug in but he was bowled for 39.  When 14 he was joined by Logan who assisted in taking our reply on to 74-7 abd then aided Taariq yet further to achieve 91-8. But the overs were running out as Taariq and Keith added another 24 before our conclusion at 115-8 and another defeat as the promising start to the year was fast disappearing. Another Home match brought Thornton [Bradford] IIIs to Wide Lane. Michael remained in the side as the visitors chose to bat first. At 38-6 they probably regretted that decision, although opener Richardson remained unbowed on 19. The damage had bee done by Tom Raby with an unplayable spell of 6 overs, taking 4 for 3. Richardson and palmer almost doubled that to 73-7 when the former was out for 30 from a patient 55 balls, bowled by young Ollie. Palmer went on to make 34 and with tail-wagging Thornton posted 142 in 34 overs. Ollie had picked up 2-46 after Jimmy had supported Tom with 2-19 from 9 typically tidy overs. Excellent top order knocks from Sultan [37] and Tom [29] set the base for 40 no from Michael and we romped home at 143-3 in only 27.3 overs. 

A third Home match on the trot brought Blackley IIs to the Worth Valley who also opted to bat first. The great form of the previous week would have to be repeated without the input from both Michael and Tom, both of whom returned to the 2nd team line up.  There was no need for concern as our young bowlers again stood up to be counted, this week led by 5-14 from Ollie's six overs. Louis and Asim each gabbed a brae as 9 of the 10 wickets fell to juniors. Blackley were well skittled for just 77 in the 23rd over, their top scorer Murphy making 20. Jimmy opened the batting and showed tremendous leadership at a run-a-ball in making 44 not out to carry us over the line with just one wicket down as we blitzed the target in only 11 overs. What a difference a week makes! After a 2-week break in the fixtures we were scheduled to resume at Greetland IIIs, who no doubt had noted our successive wins, which had lifted us some way up the 7 team table. Its difficult to categorize the match as we again asked them to bat first. Their opener Riaz went on to post 103 and retire with 20 fours to set up an inevitably strong score. With 61 from Rauf it had reached 186-3 when Nazir was joined by Ahmed. When the Greetland 40 overs were up, the scoreboard showed 311-3 with Ahmed on 92 not out from just 24 balls!! He had whacked 11 sixe and 6 fours in an unbeaten stand of 125. We tried everything from 8 bowlers but to little avail. Logan had taken two wickets including that of Rauf but he was taken to teh cleaners by Ahmed. Rafaqat posted 31 but that was essentially it as the rest mustered just 34 between them along with 12 extras in a 77 all ot reply. Nuff said.

The following match vs Stainland [our fourth!] was abandoned and the next vs Rastrick [away] was conceded by the opposition. But the following turned the league table upside-down as both Thornton and Blackley also conceded their Home matches. We had picked up 68 points without scoring a run, taking a wicket or even using any petrol!! But the points were of little consequence to all our players who had the most extended case of pad-rash in history. The last time we had held a bat was on 9th July at Greetland, it was now September 10th and time for the return with Greetland which would determine whether we, second in the table, or Greetland third in the table would join Stainland in promotion to Division Three. The weather forecast was not good. Our destroyers at Greetland, Riaz, Rauf and Ahmed were again in their team and surprisingly they opted to bat first against our usual squad, boosted only by the inclusions of Wajid & Michael Thompson. None of their big three scored anything to shout about but Nazir did post 52 and Hussain 56 as they totalled 201 all out with an over not used, Four of our young bowlers, Saad, Dawud, Ollie and Logan each took 2 wickets as did Wajid. It was a great bowling effort particularly from Logan who had completely put the pounding he took in the away match, fully behind him.

Tea time had arrived and so did the rain. Despite work on the surface no further play was possible and the match draw gave 9 points to each team and so Oakworth remained in second place and promoted in its first season. Greetland left Wide Lane dejected and rueing their previous week's defeat by Stainland and cursing both the British weather and the HCL points system.

Summary

The scheduled 12 match programme had concluded with our team winning 3 matches outright, 3 defeats, 3 drawn matches and 3 matches conceded to us by the opposition. The oddity was that Greetland won 5 matches and lost just 2. Bizarre.  The 12 match structure had proved inadequate to keep the interest of players and we shall have to see if there are any defections in the light of outcomes. We batted only six times in the entire programme, with another two innings in the Shield competition. Our batters batted second in five of the six matches actually played.

Batting form was as above varied across the season and as always dependent on the team available on the day. We scored a total of 685 runs, losing 29 wickets, so the 23.6 runs/wicket was competitive. Our opponents batted 7 times and tallied 1,153 runs [512 by Greetland] losing 55 wickets, ergo 20.9 runs for every wicket lost. Our average score was 114 and the opposition figure was 165 [106 without Greetland].

The players

Including the two Shield matches, Sultan Khan turned out 11 times and was our leading run-scorer with 96 runs. Logan also appeared 11 times but as a bowler, batted just 4 times for his 12 runs. Amin Khan appeared 10 times which brought him 92 runs, whilst his son Asim managed only 19 runs in 6 innings. Only Michael and Elis, Rafaqat and Jimmy also tallied more than 50 in the year. In such a disjointed year its not valid to draw too many conclusions. It should be noted that Dawud and Ayaan were both largely unavailable due to exam needs whilst Elis, Louis, Saad and Logan were elevated to the 2nd XI on several occasions. Tom was a regular 2nd XI player. But of the 22 players utilised, only 7 were juniors. Of those 7 Elis Jones with the only 50, and Tom Raby showed any batting form, but with the ball Logan Scarborough topped the wicket-takers with 14 with Ollie Thompson second highest on 10 and Asim Khan third with 7.  Marvellously Logan and Ollie each recorded five-Fors for the team. The eight young bowlers bowled 60% of the balls and picked up 50 of the 69 wickets taken at a collective average of 18.0 and excellent strike rate of one every 22 balls. Understandably their economy rate of 4.8 per over was a third higher than the adult bowlers.

Comparisons with the 2022 season are again not really statistically valid but it is evident that League Bowling Prize winner in 2022, Tariq Khan had not been able to repeat that level of achievement. Also even more noticeably Michael Thompson did not appear and so neither did his almost 600 runs of 2022.

It would be difficult to retain a more consistent line-up but we should review whether 69 appearances by adults and 36 by juniors is the desired ratio [7 to 4] if we regard the Third XI as a development vehicle for emerging young cricketers. In both age groups the average number of appearances was five, so all were used with similar frequency. The adults averaged 11.4 runs per innings whilst the youngsters achieved 7.9 per innings.

2024 Season

The absences of Dawud Shahzad and Aaayan Basharat should not be repeated in 2024 and assuming a good recovery from injury for Elis will allow him regular selection in either 2nd or 3rd teams. Logan may well be a regular 2nd teamer in 2024, as would Louis if available more often. Joining the seven of 2023 should be a number of other promising young players: Danny Snowden, Haroon Nazam, Henry Payne, Adnan Mohammed, Zakariya Wajid, Mohammed Daanish, Cody Morphet and Albie Ellis. One major change that is already flagged up is that Keith Gilert is to step down as Captain and as a  player after 71 matches [debuted in 2017] for the team and will concentrate on umpiring. His replacement is yet to be determined. Rafaqat has left the club to return to Glusburn, whilst Dave Picton [55 appearances] has also confirmed his retirement as a player, as possibly may Steve Cox [54 appearances].

Oakworth CC owes a huge, great debt to Keith, Dave and Steve for their unstinting commitment to roles in developing young players through the Third XI. They sit 3rd, 12th & 13th on the all-time appearance list for the Third XI. Only brothers Alan and Graham Fothergill have turned out more times than Keith.

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