It may have been business as usual for champions Jer Lane on Saturday, but alarm bells were sounding loud and clear in the lower reaches of the Spenser Wilson Halifax League.
Lane made it two wins out of two in their pursuit of a record-equalling fourth successive top-section title with a thrilling two-wicket win at Warley, where they had just two deliveries to spare.
However, Greetland were unable to raise a second team to play Luddenden Foot in the second division and two more reserve sides could only field seven men and suffered humiliating defeats.
Mytholmroyd were bowled out for seven at Southowram and Bradshaw for 10 at home to Upper Hopton. Both sides lost by 10 wickets and the games lasted only 12.1 overs between them.
Even allowing for the cold, wet start to the season, league chiefs are sure to be concerned about the apparent sharp drop off in the number of people wanting to play the sport.
At Warley, Dan Syme’s unbeaten 86 left Jer Lane needing 249 for victory and at 95 for five their prospects were bleak. However, a century stand between Johnny Lister and skipper Mick Hustler got Lane back in contention.
Lister went on to fall two short of a century but Naser Chowdrey (35 no) and stalwart Phil Yeadon (6 no) completed the job with little to spare.
Steve Senior ensured it was not all doom and gloom at Mytholmroyd, his 136 not out from 118 balls helping the home club race past promoted Northowram Hedge Top’s 230 for seven, which included 93 not out from Ollie Hemingway.
Sowerby Bridge won their first game at temporary home Stainland, beating promoted Sowerby St Peters by 43 runs.
Ashton Richardson and Darren Chapman took nine wickets between them to dismiss last year’s middle section champions for 109, Hayden Bruce’s 52 accounting for almost half his side’s score.
Booth looked set to make it two wins out of two until the weather intervened at home to Copley.
Hasnain Wajid hit 100 and Nigel Horsfall 57 not out in Booth’s 243 for nine and the dangerous Chris Dennison had been dismissed for 78 in Copley’s 162 for seven reply.
Nathan Madden (five for 22) and Jack Gledhill (47 no) helped Triangle win by four wickets at Blackley while George Hampshire’s 116 helped SBCI post 269 at Thornton, where the hosts reached 260 for seven in reply.
Low Moor was still unfit for play against Southowram in Division One.
Oxenhope won by six wickets at Old Crossleyans, after bowling out their hosts for 54; Amjad Ali’s 55 helped Queensbury win comfortably at Great Horton; and Bridgeholme, thwarted by snow the week before, won by 83 runs at Stones thanks to Oliver Davy-Day (five for 27) and Dan Fielden (66).
Cullingworth, Upper Hopton, Clayton and Shelf are all level on 16 points at the top of Division Two.
Clayton, still mourning the loss of player Ben Craig recently, crushed visitors Denholme Clough by 10 wickets.
Cullingworth were also wide-margin winners, by 121 runs at Old Town, in spite of Ali Asghar’s seven for 79 for the hosts.
Bowlers dominated at Upper Hopton where Andy Ingham (six for 63 and Aaron Buckley (four for 42) dismissed the hosts for 109. However, stag-do hit Bradshaw were skittled for 99 by eight-wicket John Stanger.
Wicketkeeper Johnny Marshall (56) and bowlers Robert Ramsden and Neil Armitage, with four wickets each, were the key men in Shelf’s 33-run home win over Outlane.
Luddenden Foot keep Greetland under wraps restricting them to 135-9 in their 45 overs. Foot chased this down with ease for an 8 wicket win and 11 points.
A hard-hit 66 not out from Isaac Baldwin helped Luddenden Foot pass a modest Greetland total of 135 for the loss of two wickets.