Theakston Nidderdale League: Rain plays its part as Birstwith strengthen grip on top spot

George Hirst was in the runs as Birstwith took a step closer to winning the first division title
George Hirst was in the runs as Birstwith took a step closer to winning the first division title

Bad weather played its part as Birstwith strengthened their grip on top spot in Division One of the Theakston Nidderdale League.

The men from The Moss’ clash with Masham was the only top flight fixture to reach a conclusion, and crucially allowed the leaders the opportunity to extend their advantage at the summit to 32 points.

Chris Base claimed 3-29 with the ball for Birstwith to help restrict their hosts to 120/9 in a match reduced to 25 overs per side.

Craig Broadley did offer some resistance with a knock of 47, but the home score never looked like it was going to be enough once the title-chasers got off to a flying start.

Visiting openers Tom Croston (51 not out) and George Hirst (39) scored quickly at the top of the order before an unbeaten 23 from the bat of James Riley helped wrap up a nine-wicket success inside 17 overs.

The rest of the teams in the division had to settle for five points apiece as their matches fell foul of Saturday’s heavy rainfall.

Most significantly, this resulted in second-placed Helperby losing real ground in the title race, and their hopes of winning the championship will be over should they fail to better Birstwith’s results during the final two rounds of fixtures.

The weather also robbed Knaresborough Forest of the chance to keep their slim survival hopes alive heading into the penultimate weekend of 2018.

Joel Ainsley’s troops cannot now escape the relegation zone and will join rock-bottom Bishop Thornton in Division Two next term.

Second division pace-setters Pateley Bridge also capitalised on the inactivity of promotion rivals Raskelf and Kirk Deighton to pull 31 points clear at the top with a 21-run win at Burnt Yates.

Tom Simpson (70 not out) and Tom Fryer (45) saw the Badgers to 164/5 in 25 overs, Carl Brockhill scooping 3-35.

Brockhill then struck 43 with the bat, however the home team were dismissed on 143 thanks to 4-22 from Joe Preece and Fyer’s 4-32.

Elsewhere, rejuvenated Blubberhouses put further distance between themselves and the drop zone, Mark McEneaney smashing an impressive 118 not out as they chased down Scotton’s 163/4.