Woodlands fall agonisingly short in Yorkshire Championship finale

Liam Collins hits out on his way to a top score of 85 but his efforts proved in vain as Woodlands suffered an agonising two-run defeat against Sheriff Hutton Bridge in the Yorkshire Premier Leagues play-off final at Headingley last Saturday. Pictures: Paul Butterfield
Liam Collins hits out on his way to a top score of 85 but his efforts proved in vain as Woodlands suffered an agonising two-run defeat against Sheriff Hutton Bridge in the Yorkshire Premier Leagues play-off final at Headingley last Saturday. Pictures: Paul Butterfield

Woodlands suffered an agonising two-run defeat to Sheriff Hutton Bridge in a thrilling Yorkshire Premier Leagues Championship play-off final at sun drenched Emerald Headingley last Saturday.

Supporters who turned up to watch the pinnacle of Yorkshire club cricket were treated to a fantastic game which went down to the wire but Woodlands’ bid to win the competition for the first time fell just short.

Woodlands had won 16 team trophies since joining the Bradford League 18 years ago but this was regarded as arguably the biggest game in the club’s history as they aimed to complete a unique treble having already won the Bradford League title and Priestley Cup this season.

They had also comfortably disposed of Yorkshire League South champions Doncaster Town in the semi-final.

Yorkshire League North champions Sheriff Hutton bridge had little hesitation in batting first having won the toss.

Woodlands had early success when opener Louis Foxton was bowled by Muhammad Bilal for one but Ed Barnes and captain Adam Fisher then shared a second wicket stand of 110, with both making half centuries.

Barnes hit seven fours in his 54 before becoming the first of three victims for spinner Chris Brice, who also picked up the wickets of Dulash Udayanga and Tommy Hudson to finish with 3-44 from 15 overs.

Adam Fisher struck five fours and a six in a patient knock of 75 before falling to the spin of Kiwi Brad Schmulian.

Karl Carver boosted the Sheriff Hutton Bridge total as he struck 38 not out from 31 balls, including a six and four fours, as they closed on 212-6.

Woodlands were reduced to 18-3 in reply with Tim Jackson, Sam Frankland and captain Cieran Garner out cheaply to opening bowlers Barnes and Dave Henstock.

This brought Liam Collins to the crease and he thrived on the chance to play at Headingley and led a terrific Woodlands fight back.

Collins added 32 with Schmulian before the New Zealander — a key figure in Woodlands Bradford Premier League title winning season — was trapped lbw by Carver for 16.

Left-arm spinner Carver also picked up the wicket of Greg Finn for 23 as Woodlands slipped to 99-5.

Collins continued to take the fight to Sheriff Hutton and was supported in a 38-run sixth wicket stand by Scott Richardson (19) before Bilal (24) and Collins added a further 45 runs for the seventh wicket as the match headed towards a tense finale.

Collins made a well crafted 85 from 102 balls and looked to be guiding Woodlands to victory until he was caught at third man by Barnes off the bowling of Henstock from the first ball of the 48th over.

That left Woodlands needing 19 runs to win from 17 balls with two wickets remaining.

Elliot Richardson struck three fours on his way to 18 not out from 17 balls and along with the experienced Kez Ahmed reduced the target to seven from the last over to be bowled by Henstock.

However, it was the Sheriff Hutton Bridge man who held his nerve and conceded just four runs from his first five deliveries.

That left Woodlands needing three to win from the final ball when Ahmed holed out at deep point to give Henstock impressive figures of 4-28.

Sheriff Hutton Bridge were left celebrating a thrilling win as they lifted the coveted White Rose Trophy, with Barnes pipping Collins to the man-of-the-match award.