Sheffield’s first XI took another giant step towards gaining promotion with another stunning come back to clinch victory over Leeds’ second XI by 38 runs. Sheffield only managed to post 141 on a very spicy pitch and Leeds had raced to 64-0 after ten overs in reply. Mark Williams and Phil Singleton both bowled remarkable spells, however, which saw Leeds lose ten wickets for just 34 runs.
Having lost the toss Sheffield were asked to bat first and started well as Alex Griffiths and Will Aitkenhead took full advantage of the short boundaries on offer. Aitkenhead smashed a six over cover point off the front foot and Griffiths was finding some form as well with a serious of cover drives.
Aitkenhead was caught at cover for 23 soon after, however, and Griffiths fell in the next over for 20. As the ball got older it became harder for batsman to settle and Chris Murrall was, ‘speechless,’ after he got an unplayable delivery that saw him caught and bowled.
Carl Baker was the only member of the middle order who looked in any comfort as he made 26 and it was left to Stuart Benzies to guide the tail with some cautious batting and running between the wickets. Benzies finished with 16 not out as Sheffield were all out for a below par 141.
Sheffield knew that early wickets would get them back in the game but the Leeds opening pair got off to a flyer and it wasn’t until the introduction of Williams from the Diamond Road End that some control was established.
It was Singleton from the Pavilion End who made the break through though in the 12th over with Aitkenhead taking the catch at short cover. Even then at 69-1 it was still Leeds’ game to lose, and lose it they did thanks to some very high class bowling. Williams had his first wicket the very next over as he slipped one through the batsman’s defences to claim an LBW and soon he had another to make it 78-3.
Singleton continued to probe away at the other end and the pressure being built led to more wickets as soon Leeds found themselves 81-5. The dangerous opener remained in though and it took some excellent captaincy and bowling to starve him of the strike. Attempting a risky two to keep the strike he had not counted on the arm of Baker who produced a stunning direct hit from the boundary to run him out.
Next over Williams had another wicket with a real beauty that just clipped the off stump. He finished with 4-25 from his ten overs and Singleton had more reward for his fine spell with another leg before to finish with 3-40.
Chris Charles returned to see off the tail and picked up the ninth wicket after Murrall just hung on at slip and the final wicket fell in the same over as Baker took the catch as Leeds were all out for 103.
Phil Singleton said after the game, ‘The lads showed real team spirit to come back from the situation we were in. Everyone followed the lead of Mark, who’s bowling spell and captaincy was really inspirational. It was a fantastic performance all round today, bring on Hallam!’ The first XI play Hallam on Wednesday where victory would guarantee promotion and possibly send Hallam down.