Absences play their part as Under-15s struggle in season’s openers

Lightcliffe Under 15s nine man team were a long way second in their opening 2016 fixture against Cleckheaton who were returning to the Bradford Junior League South Division after a two year absence.

Deprived of players due to football and holiday commitments one could not fault the attitude of the team in the field. Whilst understandably slow to get going the young side gave of their best.

Captain for the game Joshua Booth led from the front, conceding only seven runs from his opening three overs and claiming a clean bowled victim when returning for the last over.

Young bowlers Jude Roberts (still only 11) and 13 -year- old James Lunn also caught the eye with their accuracy, with Lunn especially unlucky with his off-spin with two close leg before calls from consecutive balls.

Oliver Slater , another 13 -year- old playing above his age group, let no one down with a solid performance behind the stumps, whilst 12- year- old debutant Bradley Atkinson was a beacon of enthusiasm.

Booth took an excellent high catch late on in the innings to give Owen Thomas a wicket

The reality however of being short of players and with more senior opponents , Lightcliffe’s side without a single player of full 15 year playing age on the field, Cleckheaton’s top order scored solidly to set a good total of 122-2.

Matthew Denman and Booth, without being able to mimic the run rate of the home side, opened in steady fashion with Denman’s cover driven boundary a classical treat.

Denman bowled and Booth run out to a good throw meant that the rest of the innings was reliant on the fast bat of Owen Thomas. Showing increase maturity with shot selection, and with wickets tumbling at the other end, he was last man out for 19 and his side on just 51.

Well beaten, but with some positives to take from the game when the team can put

Lightcliffe Under 15s suffered a second heavy defeat to local neighbours Northowram Fields, as despite five changes to the team, the side found it difficult to be competitive in the field, nor show sufficient resilience with the bat.

Shorn of a wicketkeeper due to absences, Anthony Ellwood bravely offered up his services letting no one down. Whilst Joshua Booth beat the bat frequently in the first couple of overs, Northowram’s batsmen found runs much too easy to come by, with Lightcliffe’s fielders lethargic -suggesting the early 9.30am start had caught up with them!With two batsmen retiring on 33 -under the new League rules- the score was over 120 when a breakthrough was finally achieved; former Lightcliffe player Louis Cockburn well caught at mid wicket by Ed Wardle, to give James Lunn a wicket.

Booth then took an excellent caught and bowled over his head, from the innings’ last delivery to give something to spur the side on, but Northowram had scored 145.

In reply, Sam Harrison, Harry Stobart and captain James Chapman were unable to deal with the Fields’ opening bowlers, for whom Jacob Slater caught the eye.As further wickets fell to leave the side 27-5, it was left to Booth to shoulder the burden of occupying the crease and eventually finding a partner to hang around, in the form of James Lunn. With the diminutive 13-year- old able to shore up one end, this generated a partnership of 37 as his left handed partner picked off some change bowling, and retired unbeaten for 31- a great achievement in the context of the innings, where Lunn’s score of 3 was second top score with the bat.

Lightcliffe were finished off in amazing fashion by another former player. Opposition captain Nathan Hadaway, sensing opportunity against younger opponents completed a hat trick to bring the match to an abrupt finish on 69-8.