Top-of-the-table clash awaits leaders Rastrick after Kirkheaton win

Rastrick CC.

Rastrick CC.

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Leaders Rastrick go head-to-head with second-placed Moorlands on Saturday in a match which could go a long way to deciding the promotion battle in the Drakes Huddersfield League Championship.

Rastrick strengthened their position at the top of the table with a good win in a rain-affected fixture at Kirkheaton, leaving them three points ahead of Moorlands.

After winning the toss against Kirkheaton, Rastrick captain Olly Pearson decided to bat first with one eye on the rain rule, which tends to favour sides who are first to bat.

The contest started late and was reduced to 40 overs per side and Rastrick found it difficult to gain momentum on a large surface with a slow outfield and conditions offering assistance for the bowlers.

Their cause also was not helped when leading run-scorer Jacob Waterson managed to run himself out for two.

Faisal Javed worked his way to 13 runs but also gave his wicket away, offering a straightforward catch to square leg.

Mitch McCoach scored 30 but departed after a mis-judged leave off Charlton’s bowling resulted in his furniture being rearranged.

It was wicket-keeper batsman Bradley Birkhead who then led the charge as he began to punish anything short of a length on his way to a hard hit 52.

Captain Pearson was missing hard-hitting veteran Matthew Lambert who is normally so clinical in the later stages.

Instead, the skipper had to step up himself and take responsibility for a real captain’s innings as he timed his charge perfectly on the way to a quick-fire 52 not out.

That left Rastrick on a very competitive total of 183-6 off their 40 overs.

In reply, Kirkheaton got off to a steady start but found it difficult to score as Wasim Javed dismissed both openers in a spell of 2-12 off seven overs. However, the weather was becoming a concern for Rastrick as the players left the field with Kirkheaton on 34-2 in the 11th over.

Play was restarted but the rain came again with Kirkheaton 50-2 off 17 overs and, whilst they were well behind the required rate a game is only completed if there are 20 overs bowled in the second innings.

Kirkheaton deserve credit for their willingness to play in far from ideal conditions as they chased a difficult reduced target of 159 off 33 overs, which definitely favoured Rastrick.

In an effort to get through the overs, Pearson turned to occasional slow bowler Jacob Waterson who responded with two wickets as Kirkheaton were forced to take risks, collapsing to 85-7 with less than nine overs to bowl.

The wicket of Cameron French (42) caught behind off Waterson was probably the final nail in the coffin for Kirkheaton.

They went on to battle gamely and eventually reached 129-8 off the 33 overs available to them, losing by 30 on the rain rule.