TOMORROW is White Rose day!
No, not the official one, that’s August 1, but the one when the League’s Under 21 side get their chance to make a belated bow in this year’s Inter-League competition.
This year, the cream of the Drakes League’s teenagers meet the Huddersfield Central League team at Cawthorne (1.30) with the winners going straight into the final to meet the winners of the three-strong Northern section who have been competing on a round robin basis.
Sadly, after the decline in entries over recent years, only five teams remain in the competition, which was originally set up to pick out late developing cricketers, who had not come to the fore at Joe Lumb Cup level.
The Aire/Wharfe League, the North Yorkshire & South Durham League and the York & District League were put into the Northern Section, while the Drakes and arrowselfdrive Central League were put into the Southern Section, with just one game leading to a final slot.
Originally the clash was earmarked for June 6, but was back-dated because of Heavy Woollen Cup commitments, and will now be played tomorrow.
Representative cricket at whatever level and age group, is (and should be) the pinnacle of any sportsman's career. It carries the honour and prestige of being recognised as one of the top players in the league and gives players the chance to bond with other top players from different clubs, and form friendships which often last throughout their careers and beyond.
Often the White Rose set-up can prove difficult for team managers given the restrictive age group, particularly, if like tomorrow the Joe Lumb Cup side are also in action on the same day.
Some years there is a dearth of players between the ages of 17 and 21, while in others there is a veritable plethora who fit into the required category, and this summer team boss Norman Clee finds himself with the latter scenario. Not that it makes his job any easier when it comes to selection.
“It really has been a difficult decision as to who just to choose this year,” reflected Clee.
“With the exception of a couple of lads who are unavailable, but who would normally be expected to be in the side, I have had quite a number to choose from, and unfortunately quite a few will be disappointed not be included in the team.
“This year has definitely been the hardest with regards to selection since I took over the role from David Law.”
After plenty of deliberation over his final XI, Clee has installed Elland’s Craig Fletcher as the Drakes League captain at the head of one of the strongest-looking sides put together for many years.
The 21-year-old pace bowler Fletcher gets one over his dad Stuart, who, although playing representative cricket for the League, never captained the side before being contracted to play county cricket with Yorkshire.
Including himself, Fletcher will have an eight-strong front-line bowling attack at his disposal at Cawthorne, which is probably where the strength of the side lays, although he also boasts in-form Shepley player Tom Denton at the top of the batting order.
The former Town footballer has been in tremendous form since having his contract terminated by the soccer club, hitting tons against Holmfirth and Scholes and a superb top score of 186 against Hoylandswaine.
His Marsh Lane teammate Liam Wiles has also knocked up two tons, while Clayton West’s Nick Sharpe has a top score of 162 and Kexborough’s Michael Jepps 135 and plenty of wickets to his name.
Ex-Kexborough man Ben Potter is now making an impression with Hoylandswaine in the top flight with the ball and leading leg-spinner Tom Craddock (already with 36 League and Cup victims for Honley) is likely to prove a real handful for the young Central Leaguers.
The side is completed by Premiership front-line all-rounders Greg Buckley, Jonny Butterfield and Tom Brook with Honley reserve stumper Joe McNamara behind the sticks.
The Central League meanwhile, have former Joe Lumb player Chris Matthewman as captain, who is one of three players from last season’s League runners-up Green Moor, and who has previous Drakes League experience with Shelley.
Matthewman opens the batting for Green Moor along wth Ben Simpson, who is included in the Rose team along with bowler Jake Rogers.
There are also two players from League champions Cawthorne, Lewis Skelly (son of well-known Huddersfield League player Dale) and wicketkeeper Will Mott, who have the benefit of playing on their own ground, along with two former QEGS-reared players Tom Chadwick and Ben Busfield from Cartworth Moor.
David Hales and Zac Stanger have helped lift Almondbury Wesleyans to second place in the Premiership, while Liam Morris (Upperthong) will be well known to Huddersfield players, although less so George Rogers from Nortonthorpe who completes the line-up.
The winners tomorrow will automatically go into the final, which is scheduled for Sunday, August 1, for which the venue has still to be decided. The teams for Sunday are:
Drakes League: Craig Fletcher (capt), Greg Buckley (both Elland), Joe McNamara (Honley, wkt), Tom Denton and Liam Wiles (both Shepley), Nick Sharpe (Clayton West), Jonny Butterfield and Tom Craddock (both Honley), Michael Jepps (Kexborough), Ben Potter (Hoylandswaine), Tom Brook (Scholes).
Central League: Chris Matthewman (capt), Jake Rogers, Ben Simpson (all Green Moor), Lewis Skelly, Will Mott (wkt, both Cawthorne), Tom Chadwick, Ben Busfield (Cartworth Moor), Zac Stanger and David Hales (both Almondbury Wes), Liam Morris (Upperthong), George Rogers (Nortonthorpe).