An intriguing encounter at Queensbury CC saw Bridgeholme, for the very first time, win the twenty-seventh playing of the final of the Sunday League’s cup competition, beating favourites Illingworth St Mary’s by 64 runs.
On a day when the weather was very kind, albeit with a stiff wind blowing across the highest cricket ground in the UK at 1,186 feet, the attendance was well above expectations and spectators enjoyed an excellent contest. Locals of course described the above wind, to the sea-level anoraks, as ‘nowt but a little breeze’!
Bridgeholme batted first and when the first three wickets fell cheaply the Illingworth favourites tag looked to be justified, with its opponents score standing at 22-3. However the odds on the club based next to the River Calder winning then began to tumble, over by over, as Tuffique Butt and Sajjad Mahmood came together to put on a swashbuckling partnership that had watchers and the home club’s staff, particular the car park attendant, scrambling around to retrieve balls from all over Old Guy Road.
The pair hit a total of 18 x 4’s and 11 x 6’s in a stand that brought generous applause from the crowd, and at times ribald comments, as it enjoyed every minute - Illingworth supporters excluded. There was even a bizarre incident when Butt reached 102 not out and, under Sunday League rules, had to retire after scoring a century – one he clearly did not realise existed, until told to exit, as his bat was thrown on the ground with sheer frustration!
Mahmood went on to make a sparkling 82 runs and whilst the lower order tended to throw their wickets away in search of quick runs, with the exception of Aaran Terry-Dias (21 not out), the dressing-room was well pleased with the 263-9 total. Only Ben Fearnley returned decent bowling figures with 3-49.
Towards the end of that first innings some Illingworth players had tried to inspire teammates, as heads had dropped during the onslaught. Their response at the crease however, Hamza Mahmood and Sajjad Ghazan excepted, seemed to indicate that the motivation had not worked very well.
Mahmood followed Butt in having to retire, his contribution an excellent fighting 101 not out and Ghazen scored 47 before being bowled by Bilal Mahmood, but the rest of the innings folded, in 37.1 overs, with the score on 199 all out. Mahmood was the fifth bowler used by Bridgeholme and he literally cleaned up the Illingworth innings with figures of 7.1-0-35-5.
Note that there is always a debate whether an enforced retirement should show as a wicket, as the scores show above, but that argument is for another day.
It was without doubt however Bridgeholme’s day as the Division 2 side triumphed over its Division 1 opponents – a brilliant effort by the Eastwood based side and in particular man-of-the match Tuffique Butt.