CARTWORTH Moor captain Scott Bissett is on tenterhooks – and not just because his club are trying to win the Allsop Cup for the first time since 1939.
The 35-year-old and his wife Amy are expecting their first child any day, so Sunday’s Central League showpiece against Azaad at Penistone (1.30) can’t come quickly enough.
Bissett’s brother Andy – who is working his way back to fitness after an operation – is on standby should the new arrival stump the skipper’s chances of facing their Premier Section rivals.
“Amy was due to give birth yesterday (Thursday) but there’s no sign yet!” joked Bissett.
“I’m just hoping things get a move on or nothing happens until Monday, but if she goes into labour this weekend I’ll be missing out on the final for the very best of reasons.
“Andy will be ready to play if necessary and we’ve got Graham Halstead to step up and lead the side, so we’ll be ready to go whatever happens.”
Halstead, the veteran former Holmfirth wicketkeeper, has been in sparkling form this season and has helped resurgent Cartworth – based high above Holmfirth – to achieve successive promotions and reach the CG Autos-sponsored showpiece against Azaad, who won the cup in 2006 and 2008.
Bringing down the average age are Scholes juniors Guy Pearson and Jake Clayton, plus Thongsbridge junior Jack Atkinson, while ex-QEGS men Tom Chadwick and Ben Busfield are likely to open the bowling and Cartworth will be looking for a big contribution from Australian signing Mitch Smith (from Sydney).
“Azaad will be favourites because they are established at top level and they’ve won the trophy twice in recent years, but that means there is no pressure on us and we can just go out and perform,” added Bissett.
“We need everyone to be on their game, obviously, but I’d like to think with the experience of people like Graham (Halstead) – who is a tremendous asset – and our younger lads we’ll give ourselves every chance.
“Azaad are a very strong batting side, but so are we when we perform and, on a good track at Penistone, I’d like to think we could all click and put up a total to defend or chase down whatever we need. We need to play well all round.”
Bissett says the influx of youngsters and improved facilities have helped the club push on.
“When I returned to the club I was the youngest in the first team, but now we are giving youngsters from other clubs a chance to play when their parent sides can’t slot them in and it’s made a big difference,” he said.
“Traditionally we have struggled to attract players largely because of our location and the old railway carriage we had as changing rooms (the nearby Rising Sun pub also burned down 30 years ago), but we’ve transformed things in recent years and we are looking ahead very positively, getting new people involved.”
Horbury-based Azaad have yet to be seriously tested in this year’s Cup campaign with easy wins over Edgerton & Dalton, Woolley and Mount before they had a comfortable victory over runaway Premier leaders Almondbury Wesleyans in the semis, where they won by four wickets and with six overs to spare in impressive fashion.
Qasar Khan, Sadaqat Ghafoor and Nazaqat Hussain (man-of-the-match in the 2006 final) have all been in good form with the bat, while Imran Mahboob inspired Azaad to victory over Woolley with an unbeaten 82, as well as being among the wickets against Mount in the quarter-finals and Wesleyans in the semis.
They are a dangerous batting unit and will be driven on by hopes of a third Cup win in six seasons. Azaad are second in the table, with Cartworth placed ninth.
Cartworth Moor – Scott Bissett (capt), Tom Chadwick, Pablo Giradi, Mitch Smith, Guy Pearson, Ben Busfield, Jake Clayton, Andrew Mitchell, Graham Halstead (wkt), Jack Atkinson, Johnny Wilson. Res: Andy Bissett. Scorer: Howard Chadwick.
Azaad – Qasar Khan (capt), Sadaqat Ghafoor, Hanif Mahboob, Nazaqat Hussain, Imran Hahboob, Zahid Bukhair Shah, Waheed Ahmed, Tariq Mahmood, Sheryar Noor, Farid Chishti, Salim Aslam.