So, on a sunny day that turned out all right in the end, despite the deluges of the week and the heavy dew on the ground, the 22-week YCSPL Championship season came to a close, with four games played, and only those between Conisbrough and Green Moor, Barnsley and Collegiate declared cancelled, without which we would have gone through the season with no games cancelled, which I can’t remember happening before. All the important issues of promotion and relegation were decided the week before, so it was good to play unstressed, just enjoying the game and the camaraderie, with just a tinge of regret that it would be many cold months before we’d do this again. 
Aston Hall v Hallam 
With both teams promoted, and only bragging rights to play for, the real interest for these two clubs lay in what was happening between their second teams who were playing each other at Aston Hall for the last Division 2 promotion place. The pitch was still a little damp in places where water had leached under the covers, so it was a surprise when Aston, having won the toss, elected to bat. Maybe a season of almost invulnerability, where they had lost one league (against Shiregreen) and one cup match (against Hallam) and none at all since June 14th, made them feel their batting was strong enough to overcome any challenge. It wasn’t. James Smedley got some early movement to have Ali Ahmed caught behind and Mark Barnard bowled. Then, when Ed Burch came on, his off spinners immediately bit and he took three wickets in his first over, including Nasir Omar. From then on it was attrition. Joe Stickland stuck around for 30, Johannes Bothma and Adam Clarke put on 31 for the 9th wicket but Aston Hall were bowled out for 132 in 38 overs, with Burch taking 6-40 in 13. Any anxiety Hallam might have had about missing Rob Basu and Romir Singh from their middle order evaporated in a bright opening stand of 76 in twelve overs, with Nick Dymock and Alex Hughes making 30s. Both were out within an over, but Rob Heyes and Christian Leddicoat saw their team home with more than twenty overs to spare, in the course of which Nathan Ward caught his 46th victim of the season, just pipping Liam Mitchell of Hallam to the league wicket-keeping award. Hallam’s first team go up with Aston to the Premier Division, twelve points closer together than before – but the nemesis was their second team won the toss and inserted Hallam at Aston and beat them with a similar score, so Aston 2s go up to Division 1 and Hallam 2s don’t. 
Aston Hall 132 (37.5) Joe Stickland 30, Ed Burch 6-40 
Hallam 133-5 (29.3) Nick Dymock 36, Alex Hughes 30 
Hallam (12 pts) beat Aston Hall (0) by five wickets 
Houghton Main v Shiregreen 
In a game reduced to 40-overs a side, because of a delay waiting for the outfield to dry, Shiregreen finished their season in style at Houghton, with Imran Khan taking three wickets to take his season’s total to 66 and move clear of Buddhika Sanjeewa at the top of the divisional bowling table and Hamzah Younis scoring his customary 50 to sail away, 89 runs clear of Nasir Omar at the top of the batting. Houghton will have felt the first part of this most keenly as Imran played for them until this season and the reversal in their fortunes as a team is quite clear. Having said that, they still have two top five league performers in Michael Bates with the ball and Michael Brown with the bat and they’re a cheerful good-hearted team who will bounce back next year. After all, there are only six points between fifth in the league and eighth where they have ended. Saturday’s game however was not one they will cherish. Shiregreen batted by their well-established play-book, making a solid start with Umar Tariq’s 42 and smaller contributions from others taking them to 115-4, by which time Hamzah Younis comes in at number six and plays beautifully at a run a ball for 55 not out, with the fielding side tired, to build a respectable total, in this case 211-9. They then unleash Imran and his colleagues to make their score look even better. For Houghton, only Luke Ogden scored more than seven. He came in first wicket down and stayed till no 8, making 60 in the process and only fell to a run out. Imran took 3-21 in 9.4 overs and Abdul Lateef 3-31 in 10, as Shiregreen won emphatically, bowling out Houghton for 102 in 31 overs. They will certainly be the team to watch next year, if they can keep their squad together. 
Shiregreen 211-9 (40) Hamzah Younis 55*, Umair Tariq 42, Michael Bates 4-73, Teriq Worrell 3-64 
Houghton Main 102 (31.4) Luke Ogden 60, Imran Khan 3-21, Abdul Lateef 3-31 
Shiregreen (12 pts) beat Houghton Main (0) by 109 runs 
Rockingham Colliery v Wath 
Wath are another team with a batsman (Bradley Williams) and a bowler (Rob Barlow) in the top five (actually top four) of the division by runs scored or wickets taken but whose performance as a team doesn’t quite match up. Two wins in their last two matches have seen them move up from ninth to seventh in the table, above Houghton Main and Collegiate 2nds, but they’ve lost twelve games this season, which they might not have done with a stronger all round team performance. Against Rockingham they restricted their opponents to 149-9, with Rob Barlow taking 4-38 and overtook Rockingham for six down in 27 overs with Bradley Williams getting 70 in 60 balls. Steve Honeyman and Shawn Hopkins also took wickets and Ainsley Swallow made 35. For Rockingham, it had been a good start. Harry Grindle and Jack Riley put on 69 for the first wicket and after Riley was lbw to Barlow for 33, Grindle carried on and tried to shepherd the rest of his team to a reasonable total but it wasn’t easy. He was seventh out for 53, just before the end, with the score on 145. When Wath batted, James Barnard, who has had an excellent season, ended it disappointingly with an injury forcing his retirement, but Williams and Ainsley Swallow put on 76 for the second wicket. Williams was out at 125-3 and Wath had a bit of a scramble to get the remaining runs, Peter Lomas taking 4-33 in eight overs. At one point, the score fell to 139-6, but they got there with Honeyman and Hopkins seeing them through. Both Rockingham and Wath have the potential to do much better and hopefully will do so next year, Rockingham in Division 1; Wath still in the championship, which they grace on their good days. 
Rockingham Colliery 149-9 (50) Harry Grindle 53, Jack Riley 33, Rob Barlow 4-38, Steve Honeyman 3-41 
Wath 150-6 (27.4) Bradley Williams 70, Ainsley Swallow 35, Peter Lomas 4-33 
Wath (12 pts) beat Rockingham Colliery (2) by four wickets 
Sprotbrough v Wickersley Old Village 
The last game was between two clubs who very nearly achieved success to crown their efforts. Sprotbrough got to the final of the Whitworth Cup and Wickersley just missed out on promotion, both as it happens to Hallam, which is no disgrace, but it will have been disappointing and deeply frustrating. Sprotbrough have had a good all-round side and Sadrian Ward has been a valuable addition, scoring 677 runs and taking 43 wickets, but for the last few matches there’s been no Scott Mantovani to bowl, no Tom Kaye to keep and that’s meant Ashley Langdale has had to do it, meaning he can’t bowl either. Wickersley were on course to go up until their overseas Ahmad Bashir was called home early by his professional team and they also lost Ifti Afzal’s bowling to injury at the start of the crunch game against Hallam. Between them they’ve taken 71 wickets this year which is quite a lot to do without for your last three games. Having said that, Isaac Spencer-Jones has really stepped up as an all-rounder, Johnny Younis has come back to some sort of form after a really difficult year, and they have lots of other good players, including young Charlie Harrison who will make a big impact very soon. And this is not to mention Mark Cummins’ 51 wickets and 577 runs. So Saturday’s match had great promise and although it wasn’t high scoring, it finished with only thirteen runs between the two sides. 
The game was reduced by mutual agreement to 40 overs a side. Wickersley won the toss and batted first, but although there were fewer overs available, the early batters ground out just 60 from the first 20 overs, when Mark Cummins was stumped by Ashley Langdale for 17 from 57 balls. More wickets fell to Daniel Wright and Dean Williamson and when Subhaan Hussain was out it was 97-6 and there were just 10 overs to go. Johnny Younis and Charlie Harrison then put on a crucial 51 runs together in 55 balls and Wickersley finished with 150-7. Sprotbrough had no-one playing a big innings. They started with an opening stand of 30 between Tom Pepper and Ash Ward, but then wickets tumbled. Isaac Spencer-Jones took the first four and when Daniel Wright was out it was 50-5 off 20 overs. William Rudkin and Ashley Langdale put on 41 in nine overs, both scoring 20s, and at one stage it was 115-6 with 36 needed in six overs. Then Rudkin and Thompson fell within four balls and only two runs. Six an over was now seven, and only two wickets left. Langdale was still there but Mark Cummins and Connor Snelgrove were bowling tightly with only singles and the occasional two available and crucially no boundaries. Eight balls to go and Langdale became Snelgrove’s third wicket but by that stage it was 130-9 go – three a ball. The last pair did their best, but still the boundaries wouldn’t come and finally Nick Graves perished trying to hit the last ball from Cummins for fourteen! Great bowling and a fascinating match. Next one 2023 – just 217 days to go! So good luck to Sprotbrough and good luck to Wickersley and good luck to all our teams next year. 
Wickersley Old Village 150-7 (40) Johnny Younis 34, Nick Graves 3-60 
Sprotbrough 137 (40) Isaac Spencer-Jones 4-15, Connor Snelgrove 3-33 
Wickersley Old Village (12 pts) beat Sprotbrough (4) by 13 runs 
by Richard Storer 
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