RECENT victories over title rivals Meltham, Lepton and Almondbury have hoisted Emley Clarence up to third in the Frank Platt Championship. And, surprisingly all of which have come without any input from the overseas player, Shehyar Hassan.
However, the Multan Tigers player – now in his second season with the Welfare Ground outfit – could still yet provide the team with that certain ‘X factor’ as they chase a place in the Premiership.
For the Pakistani all-rounder, as well as being a more than useful cricketer, is also making his name as singer back in his home country, where he has recently won through to the finals of a nationwide televised competition, similarly to the popular TV talent show in England.
But his singing career is becoming a double-edged sword, as he has to return to Pakistan next month for the finals, and has already missed one match for the show, plus a second game after returning with ‘food poisoning!’
However, in two innings this season he has already proved he can hit the high notes with his bat after smashing 156 off the Clayton West attack, followed seven days later by crashing 175 (the highest by any batsman in the League this season) against Paddock in the Oddfellows Cup.
“‘Sherry’ (Hassan) is a very good player on his day, and has the potential to be the best in the division, but he is lacking consistency, which is probably that same thing you could say about the entire team,” admitted skipper Jon Lee.
“We have won three out of four of our latest League matches, but the problem is there is nothing really between any of the top six sides and therefore the Championship is just so tight at the moment.
“Someone is going to have to come out of the pack in July to put down their marker for promotion, and I just hope it’s us.
“I know some teams have given the impression they are not too keen on the prospects of going up, but I for one would like to win the division.
“We’ve been up there before, when we had one good season in the Premiership and a second where we really struggled, but I don’t think you need to spend a fortune to be competitive. Marsden are a prime example what can be achieved, because like us, they too are on a limited budget.
“Ideally you need a good over-season man who is going to either get you a bagful of wickets or get you 1,000-plus runs.
“I thought we showed what we are capable of when we scored well over 200 runs in our clash with Premiership heavyweights Hoylandswaine in the first round of the Sykes Cup, and although we would probably be a fair way off being in the top half of the table if we went up next season, it would still be nice to be up there.”
Emley, who came into the Drakes League in 2004, enjoyed their best year in 2006, when they won the Frank Platt Championship to gain promotion, and the following season when they boasted both Matthew Wood and Bilal Khiljee among their ranks they finished the Premiership season in seventh place.
Sadly for them, their two stars moved on and the following summer Emley found themselves going in the opposite direction.
But they have now had a settled side for a number of seasons and last year won promotion from the Cedar Court Conference behind Paddock to spur a revival in the club’s fortunes.
“We’ve had pretty much the same side for the last two or three seasons, and if we can just find a bit more consistency I fancy we’ll be up there at the end of the season,” continued Lee, who although not admitting it, has already more than played his part by taking 34 wickets so far, to be among the front-runners in the Championship and Conference.
“We’ve built a lot of our wins around Simon Sykes, who has been terrific this season since being relieved of the captaincy, alongside Richard Haynes who has also done a solid job as opener and Dan Onions, who has had two cracking seasons, while Allan Greenwood has also been impressive with the bat.
“Allan, who is in his second year with us after joining from Shelley and is still only 19, scored 700 runs in his first season and is showing real potential. He has a good solid technique and a lot of maturity when he is out in the middle, although he does needs to curb his emotions from time to time!
“We also now have eight or nine of our juniors playing across the first and second teams which has to be the way forward for clubs who, like us, have limited finances.
“I’ve been impressed with the three-tier system which I think is one of the best things the League have done, and whoever goes up this year will certainly have earned it.
“And I also think the Oddfellows and Earnshaw Cup competitions for the Championship and Conference clubs has been another great idea, because it’s hardly likely that any team outside of the top flight are going to go and win the Sykes Cup. Like most people I like to play in something you can win, so I feel the Oddfellows is a good second best.”