Woodlands are edged out in thrilling Yorkshire Champions final

Woodlands narrowly failed to crown their fantastic season when they were edged out in a closely contested Yorkshire Premier League Champions Play-offs final at Emerald Headingley.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 8:00 am
The Woodlands team line-up before the Yorkshire Premier League Champions play-off final at Headingley. Picture: Steve Riding

Up against a Yorkshire Premier North champions team that included two former county cricketers in David Wainwright and Chesney Hughes, they took the final right down to the last over before a six-run loss was recorded.

Both teams had come through nerve-jangling semi-finals the previous week and the final proved another strongly contested match that was a good advert for Yorkshire cricket while played under surprisingly ideal sunny conditions.

The thrilling finish that ensued looked well off when the Bradford League champions looked to be falling well short of Castleford’s 241-9 total after being reduced to 159-7, but their never say die approach kept the result in the balance right down to the final six deliveries.

Woodlands batsman Greg Finn looks upwards after he hits the ball in the air and is about to be caught out to end his innings of 23 against Castleford. Picture: Steve Riding

Elliot Richardson (40) and Greg Finn (23) put on 64 for the eighth wicket and took Woodlands to within 18 runs of the first innings score before the former was caught on the boundary by Brayden Clark off the bowling of Jack Young.

Finn suffered the same fate two runs later, again holing out, to Matthew Rees off Young.

This left last pair Kez Ahmed and Chris Brice with the task of scoring 17 from the final seven balls to win.

Ahmed did hit a four from Young’s last ball to make it 13 wanted from the final over, to be delivered by Castleford last-over hero in the semi-final the previous week, ex-Derbyshire spinner Hughes.

Woodlands' Elliot Richardson, who scored 40 in a battling innings. Picture: Steve Riding

One more boundary was hit by Ahmed, but three dot balls in the over did for Woodlands, who ended their 50 overs on 235-9.

Young proved the pick of the Castleford bowlers with figures of 5-54 that earned him the man of the match while earlier in the Woodlands innings Cieran Garner hit 32 in his last knock as skipper, Liam Collins also hit 32 and Tim Jackson contributed 30, but none of the batsmen were able to kick on after making decent starts.

Castleford had opted to bat first and made a strong start with Hughes leading the way.

He once made a double century for Derbyshire against Yorkshire at Headingley and was quickly into his stride on one of his favourite grounds, going on to hit seven fours and a six in a 57-ball knock of 61.

Woodlands bowler Muhammad Bilal delivers against Castleford. Picture: Steve Riding

Together with Liam Hyde, who hit six fours in an innings of 43, he put on 103 for the first wicket, but both openers fell to spinner Brice just five runs apart as Woodlands fought their way into the match.

Brice and Ahmed (2-66) put a check on the run-rate and although Castleford were still able to reach 241-9 by the end of their 50 overs their total was not as big as it threatened to be after the start they made.

Clark hit 34, skipper Wainwright 29 and Christopher Briggs 25no while Brice was Woodlands’ best bowler with 4-59.

The White Rose Trophy eluded Garner’s men once again, however, as they suffered another agonisingly close defeat after going down by just three runs to Sheriff Hutton Bridge in the 2019 final.

Elliot Richardson runs in to bowl to Castleford. Picture: Steve Riding
Kez Ahmed has a final fling for Woodlands. Picture: Steve Riding