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East Leeds 1st XI v Azaad 1st XI & Great Preston 1st XI v East Leeds1st XI (Cup) 19\20 May

Report by Tom Chapman

How excited I was on Friday evening. Work finished for the week and the prospect of spending both Saturday and Sunday in the boiling hot English weather, on the cricket field with a great set of pals, what could be better? Unfortunately that excitement had been completely sapped out of me by Sunday evening, and those looking for a good news story best stop reading now.

East Leeds arrived at Pontefract Lane on Saturday morning looking for their first win of the season at home to Azaad. The team welcomed Saqab Muhammad for his debut, as well as the returning Allan Olbison for the first time this season after grievous injury. The weather was hot and the pitched looked excellent for batting, so of course Tom Chapman lost the toss and we were fielding.

That lost toss didn’t look too costly as both Al and Baz Hussain set the tone excellently giving little away and drawing plenty of plays and misses from the two batsmen. The tight bowling caused Azaad to take a few risks, which was punished when Tom ran their opener. Al (2-45) quickly followed the run out with a wicket of his own, caught at slip by Ben Wilkinson. Al was on a roll and it looked like he’d never been away when he snicked off the Azaad number four for a duck, the visitors having slipped from 29-0 to 34-3. Baz (2-36) isn’t one to miss out either, and when he took a wicket either side of the drinks break Azaad were struggling on 50-5. That brought together one of the best partnerships I have seen in my time at East Leeds. The Azaad pair Mahboob and Younas batted superbly putting on 152 in very quick time, taking minimal risks and giving no chances. The bowling wasn’t too bad during that partnership either, which shows how well they batted. The partnership took East Leeds from thinking they might dismiss Azaad for less than 100, to thinking they could be chasing 300, and it took some good death bowling from Tom (2-19) and Ben (2-56) to keep the score to a manageable total. Azaad finishing on 238-9.

The feeling at half time was that the total was more than chaseable. That feeling quickly left when we fell to 17-4 inside the first six overs. East Leeds did put up a fight to keep it relatively respectable with Tom (35), Saqab (26no) and Jehan Rana (19) all spending time at the crease, but without a batsman going on to make a substantial score the total never really looked in danger.

Not the start to the weekend we had planned.

On the Sunday, East Leeds were drawn to play Great Preston away in the cup, and with a feeling a déjà vu, the weather was hot and the pitched looked excellent for batting, so of course Tom Chapman lost the toss and we were fielding.

Unfortunately the less said about this performance the better. In the main we didn’t bowl great, fielded terribly and never looked like knocking off the Great Preston total, so I’ll only cover the highlights.

Sam Thewlis made his first team debut at the tender age of 14 and equipped himself exceptionally well. Sam was one of our better fielders (taking a great catch) bowled very well – bagging his first First Team wicket with a jaffer that spun and deceived the batsmen (told you Sam) - and batted very well too, even hitting their overseas back over his head for a one bounce four. A very promising debut from a young talent.

On the bowling front, Baz continued his form from Saturday with four wickets and Tom took another three. Jimmy Watling bowled economically on a tough pitch to bowl on.

On the batting side a couple of batsmen got starts, but no one made a contribution worth noting that was really going to influence a game. There are plenty of areas we need to improve at the moment, but we need to convert these 20s/30s into big scores.

It all cumulated in a 113 run loss which would have been a more had Sam and Al not put on 39 for the last wicket.

The boys know how I feel about our performances. We are all talented enough to win games at this level, and now is the time to work harder than ever to get back to winning ways. A wise old man told me yesterday ‘hard work beats talent when talent stops working hard’ and rest assured, we will be working harder than ever to bounce back at Sandal next Saturday.