ARRON LILLEY became the first Drakes League player to pick up a bonus after he won the race to 500 Premiership runs this season.
The gifted all-rounder, who was awarded a Scholarship with Lancashire this season and is now playing with the Red Rose county’s Second team (alongside Delph teammate Adnan Ghaus) started the Drakes season like a house on fire.
He followed up two knocks of 80 in his opening two games with another of 93 against Honley, and later smashed 125 against Shepley to make himself the hot favourite with 463 runs after just seven innings.
However, as the rain began to increase Lilley’s run-making went in reverse, and it took him another four visits to the crease before crossing the line to win himself cheque for £75, ahead of another of his Delph teammates Irfan Zahoor, who also threatened to upstage his young colleague, before he too tailed off, while Paul Winrow, Matthew Wood and Lorenzo Ingram all came up short.
No-one has so far reached the target in the Championship/Conference sections, where Linthwaite duo Asnad Yousaf and Imran Malik are leading the way, but neither has yet reached 500.
Yousaf leads the way with 378 ahead of Malik with 312 (the only two players above 300), while Kirkheaton’s Kamran Saleem has 274.
Another young player with plenty to smile about is Elland’s Ashton Blakey, who has become the first batsman to reach 400 runs in the Second XI League programme, and will now receive a £50 bonus from the Examiner.
The youngest son of former Yorkshire and England Test player Richard Blakey, Ashton impressed right from the start of the season when he opened up with an unbeaten 83 against Marsden in the first game, and has never looked back.
He has also helped the Huddersfield Joe Lumb side to the semi-finals of this year’s competition, and produced a fine knock of 94 against East Yorkshire two weeks ago.
As well as the batting prize for the Championship/Conference which is still up for grabs, there is still some way to go before anyone snaps up the bowling prizes on offer, although Hoylandswaine’s Ranjith Don Bandula is way in front of anyone else at this stage.
The Sri Lankan (whose name appears to be still a rallying call at Shepley for whom he played a couple of seasons) has so far scooped 37 wickets with two sixes and two five-fors, which has played a large part in taking Hoylandswaine to the top of the table.
Shelley’s Muhammad Azarullah and Elland’s Ingram are the nearest challengers with 32 apiece, while Golcar skipper Steve Whitwam and Elland’s other spinner Chris Goulden both have 30.
Last year’s winner Ritchie Howarth, batting prizewinner Lilley and Will Hinchliffe are two victims further back.
The leading contenders for the Championship/Conference bowling prize are Paddock’s Ibrar Rafiq and Emley’s Mirza Mobeen with 27 apiece, while another Paddock player, David Mellor with 26 scalps is leading the race for the Second XI prize.
Leading bowlers are:
Premiership: Don Bandula (Hoylandswaine) 37; Azharulah (Shelley) and Ingram (Elland) both 32; Whitwam (Golcar) and Goulden (Elland) both 30; Lilley (Delph & Dobcross), Howarth (Honley) and Hinchliffe (Golcar) all 28.
Championship/Conference: Rafiq (Paddock), Mobeen (Emley Clarence) both 27; Ijaz Shah (Thongsbridge) 25; Mohammed Siddique (Kirkheaton) 24.