It’s a massive few weeks for Honley Cricket Club.
Only five years on from their last title of a magnificent seven won in eight years, they are battling to avoid relegation from the Drakes League Premiership.
Simon Kelly’s side are bottom of the table with 11 points and not a single League win in 14 attempts – but they now face a run of successive matches against fellow strugglers which could well determine their fate.
Honley are six points adrift of second-bottom Elland (two go down) and a further point behind third-bottom Shelley.
Cawthorne are fourth bottom, but seemingly moving to a position of safety on 30 points.
Honley take on Cawthorne at Far End Lane tomorrow before visiting Elland next week (July 16).
They then have a home double header against Broad Oak and Shelley (July 23 and 24), by which time they will surely need to have put points on the board if they are stave off the threat of second-tier cricket in 2017.
While Honley have plenty of talented individuals – Tom Craddock has returned from the county circuit too – it just doesn’t seem to have clicked for them as a team, with the top-order batting rarely providing a suitable platform for either posting a score or chasing one.
Leading run-scorer Timmy Taylor, too, is out for the season with a knee injury and the side will also miss his spin bowling.
Kelly and Eddie Wilson have got the bulk of the rest of the runs, but they need more people to weigh in, especially over the coming fortnight, and the club have not only signed Steven Nuttall from Barnsley but promoted experienced Martin Green from the seconds.
Australian Andrew Padbury is Honley’s leading wicket-taker with 24, while talented all-rounder Lewis Kenworthy has 17 victims. Craddock had four wickets last week and promising Tommy Woodhead three.
Last week’s five-run defeat to Shelley – when Honley failed by five runs to chase down 103 in 30 overs – certainly hurt, but their fate still remains in their own hands.
Meanwhile, the League have tightened up the rule on declarations.
If a team declares, they will not be able to add the extra overs to bowl out the opposition, and the opposition captain will not be able to claim them either. Normal overs allocation only for the second innings.
A second XI match between Hall Bower and Meltham, in which Meltham inadvertently fielded with 12 men, has been declared abandoned and it will be two points each.