What a showdown!
The two best teams in the Drakes Huddersfield League right now go head to head for a place in the All Rounder Sykes Cup final.
Premiership leaders Delph & Dobcross are the hosts for Sunday’s semi (1pm) and second-placed Hoylandswaine are the talented outfit taking them on.
Try to separate the teams and you could drive yourself crazy.
That point was underlined when they met in the League at Haigh Lane back in May.
Ryan Robinson fired an unbeaten century as Swaine recovered from early trouble to total 282, keeper Alan Mynett hitting 75 at No8.
Solid contributions from Lancashire duo Chris Laker and Arron Lilley, however, enabled Delph to take the points by two wickets on 283-8, two overs inside the distance, and underlining the form they have been able to carry forward.
Similar fireworks are on the cards this weekend and one thing is for certain – both sides will be holding nothing back.
Swaine captain Michael Cranmer – who can now draw on the considerable skills of ex-Surrey spinner Murtaza Hussain – would love to add another final to the Swaine agenda.
“The boys are pumped to be through to the Heavy Woollen Cup final and we will be looking to take that form in to Sykes semi,” said the Australian all-rounder from Adelaide.
“Delph are a quality side with a number of match-winners, and they are always extremely tough to beat in their own back yard.
“While last Sunday’s win against Moorlands wasn’t our prettiest performance, we have been playing some really good cricket for the past month and we are all looking forward to hopefully continuing our winning form this time around.”
Cranmer and opener Gharib Nawaz are both past 400 runs for the season with Alex Morris not far behind, while the all-round talent of Ryan Robinson, SP Singh and Ben Potter (not to mention keeper Mynett) is something to behold when added to that of new arrival Iain Wardlaw, the ex-Yorkshire and Scotland World Cup player who is capable of winning any match.
Delph, however, have not tasted defeat in any match this season – they went out of the Heavy Woollen only on a coin toss – and skipper Andy Gleave is just as blessed as Cranmer with teamsheet talent.
Their most recent arrival is Shree Goswami from the Indian Premier League, who is yet to register that really big score, and Gleave admits they always seem to be able to find a way to win.
“We were pushed all the way by Skelmanthorpe but still came through to win, and we have been going well,” said the opening batsman.
“Swaine are a very strong side, though, and we know what we are up against.
“When you play someone like that it can often come down to one big player, or a couple of lads, doing really well and winning it for you, and we’ve had different people stepping up at various times this season.
“The thing with us – and I’m sure Hoylandswaine feel the same – is that we believe we can outscore anyone this season.
“We have five or six very decent bowlers and our batting line-up goes all the way through, so we know we can compete with and beat the best sides around.”
Key for Delph could be the availability of Lilley.
“Arron is ready and we have a full complement to pick from,” added Gleave.
“People keep asking about Shree and you can see the guy is a really good player, but he has suffered a little bit from the success we’ve been having, because he hasn’t had the opportunities to bat which he might have had.
“Make no mistake, he’s a very good player and you can be sure he’ll be thinking about getting a big hundred and trying to win the game.”
Delph are especially hoping to land some silverware this season for respected club president Peter Gledhill, who recently lost his wife Margaret.
“Peter is such a big part of the club and we would love to win something for him this year,” explained Gleave.
“The lads are ready for the Swaine match – we know they are used to playing on a small ground like we are – and we are simply looking to keep our winning run going.”
Muhammad Shakir is leading the Delph attack with 44 wickets so far at just 13.18, second only in the League rankings to Shepley’s Jamal Nasir.
Opening partner Wasim Qasim has 23 wickets and Lilley 24 as they head into today’s match at Golcar.
Swaine are also on their travels today, to Riley Lane to face Kirkburton, and both clubs will be looking to warm up in style with victories.
Parking inside the ground will be limited to players, officials and disabled badge holders.
No-one else will have entry and will have to park on Huddersfield Road.