South Yorkshire League round-up: Rain pain sees majority of games called off - but survivors enjoy classic!

In Shakespeare , before any great event there were always ominous portents of things to come - lions whelping in the streets or whatnot.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 20th April 2016, 12:00 pm
Hallam spinner Shane Smith
Hallam spinner Shane Smith

On Friday night, as I was arriving home after cancelling our junior practice, there were two ducks waddling up my front drive, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. That night, the rain hammered on an already saturated South Yorkshire and all games bar one in the South Yorkshire Senior League Championship were abandoned.

Except one; the one I was going to. Houghton Main v Hallam. And that was only made possible by the outstanding efforts of the Houghton Main club - who worked on the ground solidly from first light to the delayed start at 2.15pm - and the determination of the umpires and players to get the game in.

Sadly for Houghton, who deserved much better, opening batsman and bowler Ian Simon got injured and came back from A&E with a pot on his lower leg.

Houghton stuck at it though and Rob Jones (3-28) and Callum Honeyman (3-37) made life very difficult for the Hallam batsmen, struggling to adjust from indoor nets to a slow, damp April pitch.

Humphrey Emery (47) and Alex Hughes (33) managed to keep a semblance of authority with a stand of 54 for the third wicket but thereafter it was a struggle and despite a brave knock of 22 by Jack Unwin, the remaining Hallam batsmen, with ground shots left redundant by the damp earth, could only prod and slog their way to 156-9 when the reduced 36-over innings mercifully came to an end.

Ten-man Houghton, having thawed out after tea, set about their task with equal determination but found it no easier to score against the accuracy of Emery and Moffat. With 20 overs to go, they still needed just over 100 to win with nine (or eight) wickets intact.

Acceleration was possible, but risky against the left arm spin of South African Shane Smith and the lively pace of Mark Williams.

Boundaries alternated with wickets and the game swung first one way, then another. Tahir Nawas looked set, then was run out.

It was gripping stuff for the shivering, chattering spectators outside and the more sensible warm ones inside the cheerful Houghton pavilion. Two overs to go left eight to win, with the last men in. Simon Ward on strike, having already clobbered three fours and a six.

Emery is brought back to bowl. Ward drives but the different length and pace of the new bowler takes the ball screaming to point where Alex Hughes holds on, and Hallam win.

It was a fantastic game for just-spring... or was it near-winter? When I drove back to Sheffield, there was an inch of snow on the moors.

Only three other games were possible in the top three divisions and only seven in total out of 50 in the entire league.

This weekend the much-fancied, remodelled Darfield team travel to Sandygate to take on Hallam, Tickhill play Elsecar and Whiston PC are at Collegiate.

It would be a surprise if, at the end of the season, one at least of those named were not in a promotion position.

As long as it stops raining!