A SUPER spell of pace bowling from Kyle Hogg and the ‘old head’ of skipper Grant Jones steered Delph & Dobcross into their second-ever Romida Sykes Cup final yesterday when they beat Drakes League leaders Golcar.
And although a low-scoring affair, none of the spectators who turned out in their hundreds at Delph’s sunny ground, could complain about the exciting finish as the match turned into a classic Cup-tie.
Lancashire county all-rounder Hogg gave Delph the early impetus, removing the top three Golcar batsmen, and also top-scored with 35, but it was Jones’s calming influence which secured the three-wicket win as the visitors threatened to upset the odds at the death.
Hogg sent back two of Golcar’s big dangermen, Steve Whitwam (20) and Craig Horner (11), having already taken out opener Mickey Illingworth in the second over of the day for a duck.
And when Australian all-rounder Tim Welsford was run out by Jamie Haynes, Golcar were in grave trouble at 36-4.
Gary Colman and James Sykes tried to pull the innings round with a fifth-wicket stand of 36 before spinner Kamran Mirza joined the party.
Having hit three fours and a six onto the road, Colman tried one lusty hit too many off Mirza and was caught on the long-on boundary by Bilal Khiljee for his side’s top score of 22.
The Pakistani-born spinner then bowled Sykes round his legs and knocked over the stumps again next ball to remove Ben Robshaw and then had Phil Eastwood caught at slip to finish with figures of four for 35, while Hogg bowled his full 15-over allocation, returning three for 20 as Golcar were dismissed for 106.
However, if Delph thought it would be an easy total to knock off they were soon mistaken as Welsford despatched both openers Irfan Zahoor and Bruce Cruse – the latter being watched by his mother and father, who had jetted in from Tasmania – with only 13 on the board.
Khiljee (23) and Hogg moved the score along to 53 before Whitwam struck a double blow when the former played on to his own stumps and wicketkeeper/batsman Haynes departed lbw next ball. And in his next over, Whitwam also accounted for Graeme Simpson.
The game really changed when Horner had Hogg caught behind, the county man having hit two sixes and five fours, to leave the hosts wobbling on 67-6.
But Jones, despite batting with a groin strain steadied the ship, and despite seeing Mike Smethurst hole out on the boundary, he calmly edged Delph ever-nearer the winning post, with one six and three fours in a vital, match-winning unbeaten 19.
“I thought overall it was a disciplined performance by the lads, particularly in the field, and we’re delighted to be back in the final once more,” said the victorious Jones.