SKELMANTHORPE’S Australian all-rounder Paul Davis was again in awesome form as he powered the Lidgett Lane club to their second successive Sykes Cup final with a fabulous all-round display against Cawthorne.
Davis had provided the inspiration for Skelmanthorpe’s quarter-final win over Clayton West with a sparkling ton, and the 165-run victory at the Barnsley club, once again owed much to the elegant Perth player, who shone with both bat and ball, as well as in the slips!
There were other useful performances for the reigning Cup holders from James Crossland, who bagged a five-wicket haul against the Cedar Court Conference minnows, while there was some useful support batting from Kris Whittaker and Pete Lombard, but no-one could deny it was Davis’ day.
Having chosen to bat first, Skelmanthorpe were suddenly rocked by the loss of both Louis Aspeling and Haroon Rashid with only eight runs on the board with burly seamer Jake Rodgers finding plenty of movement.
And worse was to follow, as Ryan Jagger, James Dollive, Adam Dollive and Paul Roebuck all failed to get a start, and when Whittaker became a second victim for skipper Chris Walmsley, Skelmanthorpe were staring into the abyss at 71-7, Whittaker having made 34 of those.
Davis remained unfazed by the clatter of wickets at the other end however, and in tandem with South African Lombard gradually halted the decline and then began to take command of the situation.
Although the junior partner, Lombard batted sensibly and very well, hitting anything loose, but more importantly feeding Davis the strike whenever possible, and the Aussie simply grew in confidence and began to hit the ball progressively harder and harder.
He reached his 50 without any unduly flamboyant strokes, before starting to accelerate, at one point hammering four successive fours off Gareth Kilburn who struggled to find a length in his first over, sending down a succession of ‘half-trackers.’
Davis quickly moved to his ton, and having taken his side’s total beyond 200 then really began to open his shoulders in the last few overs, crashing four sixes off Rodgers and Paul Tasker.
He eventually lost long-time partner Lombard, who may have only contributed 28 in the 144-run eighth-wicket stand, the value of which could not be underestimated, and then perished himself in the penultimate over, going for a big hit off Tasker, who finally ended the Aussie’s brilliant and chanceless knock for 130 (13 fours, four sixes).
A total of 239 was always going to be a massive ask for the Drakes League newcomers against a Premiership bowling attack led by Davis, who once enjoyed a four-wicket return in a first-class match for Western Australia against Queensland.
It was his batting (and strike bowling partner) Lombard who took the first wicket, Ben Simpson caught behind by wicketkeeper Josh Clarkson, who then gave Davis the first of his three scalps to dismiss Chris Matthewman for 14, one of only two players to reach double figures.
Aspeling then caught Michael Burgess in the slip cordon, also off Davis who then bowled Paul Osborne for a duck.
When he was removed from the attack Davis boasted the incredible figures of nine overs, eight maidens three wickets for two runs, he was then ‘rested’ his place at the pavilion end being taken by Crossland, who promptly grabbed his first two victims courtesy of catches in the slip cordon by who else? – Davis!
Crossland was to finish with five for 16 while Adam Dollive, recalled to the first team in place of the holidaying Dom Storey, claimed the other wicket as Cawthorne’s plucky Cup run eventually came to a drawn-out end at 74.
Although Cawthorne would be disappointed at the margin of defeat, they should be complimented on the excellent show the club put up off the field of play with some excellent facilities, and certainly justified the League’s decision to admit the Dark Lane club into the Drakes fold.
Skelmanthorpe now go into the final against Shepley at Elland’s Hullen Edge ground on Sunday, August 7 – the holders’ fourth final in six years.