It came in the post before Christmas. An A4, ring-bound compilation from the Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League.
The Motley Almanac. A statistical review of the season for 2023.
So named after Kevin Motley, a scorer for Harrogate, Barnsley Woolley Miners and the Yorkshire Diamonds who passed away in 2023.
I didn’t know the entirety of Kevin’s pedigree from learning to score at school and then Harrogate Cricket Club (then of the Yorkshire League) from 1974.
After 1982, Motley worked with Harry Gration at BBC North and scored for Test Match Special, Radio 2, local radio and Yorkshire TV. One of the first to become Level 3-qualified, Kevin embraced computerised scoring and introduced that into the Yorkshire League when he returned for a 14-year stint with Barnsley.
The annual digest of league records named after him is still very much the league’s statistical bible to this day and a nice tribute, alongside the fact he was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2019.
Now, I’ll be entirely honest and admit that the Cricket Yorkshire office is largely paperless. Give me a pdf any day. I don’t like clutter and actually have very few books.
Yet, Steve Ward, the league’s Premier Section general manager and a very experienced scorer who I’ve known for years (above, right), had kindly popped a copy in the mail and I fully expected to thumb through it and that was it.
But something compelled me to write this.
Perhaps I was drawn to the word Almanac. For me, that doesn’t conjure a yellow-jacketed, collectable cricket tome. Here at Fuller HQ, we get The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide annually.
(psst: Affiliate link above: Well…why not, eh?)
It is a beautifully written and illustrated, pocket-sized hardback by Lia Leendertz with “tide tables, sunrises and moon phases; garden feasts, wildlife and folklore; seasonal recipes, snack and more.”
What appeals is in part is the curation to pique the interest and that’s where two very different almanacs share a bit of commonality.
I found myself sucked into who did, what and when across South Yorkshire cricket with gathering intrigue.
Along the way, a few things struck me.
The Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League is a HUGE league. It runs to nine divisions with senior and junior batting, bowling, all rounder and wicket keeping merit awards for all of them.
Trivia question. Who has the largest senior cricket league in Yorkshire? I imagine it must be the YCSPL, Nidderdale League or Yorkshire Premier League North. (I don’t know the answer but feel free to let me know if you do.)
It seems that Doncaster Town duo Caleb Jewell (579 runs) and James Dobson (41 wickets) were the leading performers with bat and ball in Premier Division senior cricket last season.
I think I’m right in saying that overall, Worsbrough Bridge’s Alex Littlewood (829 runs) and Habil Arshad (Upper Haugh) with 62 wickets were the overall best batter and bowler across the entire league. No mean feat.
Vikas Dixit (Houghton Main) had a hell of a year as the lead allrounder with 684 runs and 55 wickets.
Right, time for more observations, courtesy of the Motley statsmap (yes, I think I made that word up).
In the Nicholas Associates Premier Division, won by Sheffield Collegiate, Elsecar (who finished tenth thus avoiding relegation) had a very eventful season and featured in a host of league records.
They conceded 341 against Doncaster Town in June (the highest total of the season), having hit 293 against Hallam a week earlier.
Wakefield Thornes scored 271-5 to defeat them on 28 August, (the highest total batting second to win), just days after Elsecar scored 250 batting second at home to Cleethorpes which would have been the highest run chase of the league season.
Elsecar were also twice beaten by just one run for good measure, against Aston Hall and Cleethorpes.
I could go on – and no doubt pluck out a few more accomplishments and quirks from other clubs across the divisions.
A shoutout to Brookhouse Seconds who might have finished bottom of Division Nine but they showed their class by scoring the highest total batting second to win a game with 245-6 against Dearne.
Ah ok, let’s end on league records…
With the extraordinary dry weather of 2022, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a few batting feats were notched that year with Jake Weatherald hitting 270 for Barnsley Woolley Miners and Waqas Ali scoring an aggregate of 1,310 runs.
Although, the bowlers came to the party too with Tian Koekemoer’s 10-38 for Tickhill and Doncaster Town’s Warren Graca finishing with 68 wickets; the most in a single season.
2023 was considerably wetter, particularly in that first miserable month but records did clatter nonetheless in the Yorkshire Cricket Southern Premier League.
The highest total batting second to win is now… Wakefield Thornes Seconds who showed ice-cool nerves en route to 322-7 to beat Coal Aston in September.
Unfortunately for Green Moor Seconds, they were bundled out for just 11 in 9.2 overs to claim an unwelcome record as the lowest team score in the league.
As if to prove that batting always has its highs and lows, Harry Grindle and Ben Dalton (above) claimed the highest league partnership of 261 (unbeaten) for Rockingham Colliery against Sheffield United on 1 July.
So that’s it for this time… nice to see Kevin’s numerical legacy is going strong.
Here’s to club cricket’s number crunchers, may their calculators, maths and pencils be ever sharp for the benefit of us all.
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