The grey clouds above couldn’t dampen the rampant spirit of the 2nd team. With 4 games played and 4 wins in the bag, this top-of-the-table clash was the most important game of the season so far. KECC started the day 4 points ahead of Illingworth, the question was where they would be at the end of it. Both teams were close to full strength though missing key players from the start of the season.

Liam won the toss and asked Illingworth to bat first, confident that his bowlers could restrict Illingworth to a total his batsmen could overhaul. 6 bowlers were used with Steve Watkins producing the stand-out figures of 3-18 off 8 overs while Liam Mulligan and Will Herrington took 2 wickets each. Jamie Hinchcliff and Adam Hussain took 1 wicket each with Adam also producing an excellent piece of fielding to run out Clarke and earn himself a fielding point.

Illingworth’s top 3 were dismissed for a combined total of 34 before J Lamb (34) settled the ship. KECC lost their leading bowler in the 11th over as Liam limped off the field lamenting his luck at having torn an intercostal muscle. (Perhaps the result of running all that way to the wicket each time?) He returned in the 17th over to re-take the reins and KECC promptly took 4 wickets in the space of 5 overs to reduce Illingworth to 93-7. Partnerships of 25 and 35 lead by Steve Smith saw Illingworth recover to post a final score 154 all out off 44.2 overs. 1 catch each for Rob Caddy and Ed Thirlwell with Rob also taking an important stumping to dismiss J Lamb.

In reply, Kirkstall needed only 3 batsman and 31.4 overs to reach their target. An opening stand of 17 between Ed Thirlwell and Rob Caddy ended when Ed was caught by the bowler D Priestley for 7. This brought Paul Bennett to the crease to join Rob in an age-old (or do I just mean “old”?) partnership which created an amazing unbroken stand of 138 runs to win the match by 9 wickets. Paul hit the final ball (using the spare ball after the original landed in the gutter of an adjacent building) of the match for 4 to win the match and reach his century, finishing on exactly 100 not out off 77 balls. Rob finished on 39 not out off 93 balls.

The most shocking event of the day was the appearancenof Ed Thirlwell minus beard, causing no end of confusion to the scorer. Kirkstall take the win with 17 points to Illingworth’s 2 to move 19 points clear of Illingworth and remain at the top of Division 2.

Match report by Lesley DD