Crucial game for the lowly Rams

Short of a big score: Northowram Fields' Australian skipper Heath Pyke (left) against Wakefield St Michaels
Short of a big score: Northowram Fields' Australian skipper Heath Pyke (left) against Wakefield St Michaels

Regional leagues: NORTHOWRAM Fields face a must-win game in their battle for top-section survival in the Central Yorkshire League tomorrow.

The Westercroft Lane side slipped into the bottom two with defeat at home to fellow strugglers Wakefield St Michaels six days ago and cannot afford a repeat away to the side below them, Ossett.

The club’s cricket chairman Steve Goodwin, who captains the thirds in the Halifax League’s Sunday Section, said tomorrow’s match marked the start of a critical spell in the season with matches against mid-table trio Mirfield PC, Hunslet Nelson and Altofts also on the horizon.

“We have had a disappointing first half and we need to find some consistency with our batting and bowling,” he said.

Goodwin particularly pointed the finger at the batsmen with only Bradford League legend Mark Gilliver (500) and Aussie Heath Pyke (300) among the runs so far.

Goodwin believes the other batsmen, particularly Robert Larner and Tom Marsden, are capable of much better.

“The other sides in the Premier who batted first last week got 250 to 300 runs and for us to get 176 on a good track at home was not good enough,” he said.

Pyke recently took over the captaincy when Gilliver stepped down and Goodwin said the Victorian wicketkeeper/batsman was doing a good job.

“Heath is leading the side well and is a good, clean hitter. He usually gets a start and we need him to go on and make a few big scores,” he said.

The Rams are also be looking to recent recruit Zafar Khan to breathe life into an attack which has been struggling for wickets, He has been signed as a replacement for all-rounder Nadim Hussain, who returned to Moorlands.

Ossett lost a couple of key players early in the season and are still looking for a first win after 12 games, so it could be a battle to avoid the second relegation place with the Rams, Birstall and St Michaels the teams most in danger.

Meanwhile, Northowram will discover next week whether they will be involved in the league’s Twenty/20 competition finals which they will host on Sunday, July 24.

The Rams, who won the competition last year, kept their hopes alive with victory at Buttershaw St Paul’s on Tuesday, John Lister making 50 and slow bowler Chris Thompson taking three for seven off four overs.

Both sides have only suffered one group defeat but Northowram had a game washed out so they need to beat visitors Moorlands on Tuesday and hope Buttershaw lose at Mirfield PC.

TODMORDEN skipper Andrew Sutcliffe says his men must take a leaf out of Ramsbottom’s book if they are to finish the season with some silverware.

Everything was going swimmingly for the Central Vale Park until last weekend when they lost three times, exiting the Worsley Cup and Twenty/20 competitions and also having a dent put in their title ambitions.

Ramsbottom inflicted two of the defeats and Sutcliffe, whose side host Burnley on Sunday, said: “Ramsbottom have shown us what level we need to get to to win trophies.

“The barrier has been set and it’s now up to us to get back on to a winning streak and stay in the hunt for the title.”

Holders Elland reached the quarter-finals of the Huddersfield League’s Romida Twenty/20 competition this week, having been unbeaten in the group stages.

In their last group game they defeated Kirkheaton by 80 runs.

Greg Finn made 71, Dan Wood 35 and Dominic Finn 31 as Elland made 180 for six and Kirkheaton were restricted to 100 for nine in reply.