Elsecar’s fairytale finish

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As far as cricketing fairytales go, Elsecar’s story of 2013 will probably take some beating.

For the club, a month ago, were dead and buried as runaway Premier Division leaders Wickersley opened up a substantial gap at the top of the table.

Then came news that Wickersley were to be deducted 21 points for disciplinary offences, blowing the title race wide open again.

Elsecar duly made the most of their opportunity, and sealed their 18th South Yorkshire League title last Saturday with a win against Wath.

“Obviously the Wickersley incident is a shame for them, but we still had to play them after that,” Elsecar bowler Ifti Afzal said.

“That was a crucial weekend for us, and we beat them.

“We had to keep ourselves in a position to win the league, which we did by playing good cricket. At one stage we were obviously a long way behind Wickersley, and we thought it was over.

“But as our overseas player, Shazad Rana, said to me, ‘this is cricket, and anything can happen’.

“And once Wickersley had their points deducted, we all felt we had the momentum to win it as we were playing really good cricket.”

In the end, sealing the title was a somewhat straightforward affair - a five-wicket win over Wath.

Luke Townsend took 5-36 and Afzal added 3-40 as Wath were all out for 131, only Sam Drury’s 49 giving any real resistance.

Although Ainsley Swallow was dismissed with the score on just 3, Elsecar responded in style and 32 each from Jason Meadows and Glenn Yates, plus 28 from Danial Rafiq and an unbeaten 20 from skipper Ian, saw them home in comfortable fashion.

Whitley Hall finished second, two points behind Elsecar, despite only losing one game all season.

Five drawn games, however, cost them any chance of the title.

Wickersley finished third, on 106 points.

“We had a good second half to the season and bowled sides out, which meant we were able to claw the points back,” Elsecar’s Jason Meadows said.

Danial Rafiq, brother of Yorkshire star Azeem, added: “I loved winning the league with a proper club.

“That is why I came to play at Elsecar.”

n South Yorkshire League: Page 58.