Joy for Elsecar as 18th title secured

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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.

Whitley Hall finished second, despite only losing one game all season.

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