South Yorkshire League round-up: Rain pain for our local clubs, as players copy ‘big-hitting’ exploits!

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After the sunniest week of the season, there were no games played in the top two divisions of the South Yorkshire League on Saturday.

The home teams, liberated by the sense of doing something forbidden to others, achieved comfortable wins and, after the heroics at Edgbaston and the Oval, several batsmen decided to enjoy themselves in the new mode.

The appropriately named David Merryweather of Houghton scored 83 (12 fours and two sixes) out of 150 in the win against Wombwell and for Oughtibridge against Hallam seconds, Arslan Arshad Mir scored 112 in 82 balls, which was slow besides Tom Starkes’ 84 in 47 (ten fours and four sixes).

Others must have looked at the scores and wondered.

There’s a similar pattern in the cup competitions, which haven’t so far been affected by the weather, but are very definitely being celebrated by batsmen.

The South Yorkshire League T20 has now reached its quarter finals (to be played on Thursday June 25) and will pit Upper Haugh v Wickersley, Darfield v Whiston, Coal Aston v Thorpe Hesley/High Green and Whitley Hall v Hallam.

To get there Whiston and Whitley both scored over 200 in 20 overs, Wickersley 188 and Hallam and Darfield were scoring at 10 an over batting second.

Poor Elsecar, for whom nothing seems to be going right, scored 180 but lost!

In the Whitworth Cup (45 overs), Whitley Hall scored 376-4 to beat Aston Hall, who themselves managed 250.

Wickersley scored 180-1 to beat Elsecar, Hallam scored 104-1 in 16 to beat Darfield. Coal Aston’s game against Treeton was rained off on Sunday. Who’d be a bowler today!

It’s fascinating looking at the history of the game, how things have changed.

In the 18th and most of the 19th century, a team score in three figures was an achievement, because the technology of pitch preparation was based around sheep and scythes.

One of the early laws allowed the visiting captain to choose the pitching of wickets! As the modern era progressed, scores rose but pitches were still tricky and the art of batsmanship was about protecting one’s wicket.

Looking at old club scorebooks from the 1920s and 1930s, 150 was a competitive score and even at the turn of the century a Saturday afternoon total of 200+ was uncommon.

People explain the change now as to do with harder wickets (tell that to the boys at Oughtibridge on Saturday) and fatter bats - not wider or longer because the dimensions are prescribed.

Edges are fatter, middles are deeper - but not that much, and you’ve still got to hit the ball.

The change is in attitude and self-belief. Where once slogging was frowned on, the science of scoring shots and freedom given to players to hit through the ball is revolutionary.

Combine that with fielding circles and restrictions on bowling width (leg side balls are called wide) and the balance between bowler and batsman for those with good eyes and agility has shifted irretrievably.

Never mind England and New Zealand, this season, Whitley Hall have batted first on five occasions in the league. They’ve scored 337-8, 326-4, 349-7 and only managed 274-8 against Elsecar. In the fifth game it rained when they were on 189-4 with 14 overs still to go. Wow!

Just try and argue that cricket is still boring.