Harrogate CC avoid relegation from Yorkshire Premier League North on final day of 2021 season
Will Bates was able to reflect on quite the recovery as Harrogate CC avoided relegation from Yorkshire Premier League North on the final day of 2021.
The Roosters were one of three sides who began the weekend in danger of sliding out of the division, but beat local rivals York by nine wickets, a result which ensured that Stamford Bridge were demoted.
'Gate had looked certainties for the drop at one stage, losing all of their opening seven completed fixtures of the campaign and remaining rooted to the foot of the table until mid-July.
But six victories in their last 10 outings - three of which came during the final four weeks of the season - ultimately proved sufficient to save the 2016 champions.
Saturday's win owed much to the efforts of Bates himself, the 'Gate captain hitting a match-winning 90 not out after his bowlers had got rid of hosts York for 208.
“I’m really happy with how Saturday went,” he said.
“Our fate was in our own hands. We knew that we just had to focus on winning our game, which probably helped a bit and it was nice to stay in the division under our own steam rather than relying on a result elsewhere.
"There were a few nerves because we failed to chase 178 at home to Sheriff Hutton Bridge last week, but we beat York when we played them earlier in the season and I think a lot of the lads were quietly confident.
“York’s big strength is their batting. I thought we bowled really well, so I was fairly confident chasing 208. Their pitch is one that you can score quite quickly on.”
Openers Henry Thompson (69) and Isaac Light (30 not out) laid the foundations for Harrogate's triumph before Bates arrived to hit 14 boundaries as he weighed in with his highest score of 2021.
“It was nice to contribute. I haven’t had my best season with the bat," he added.
“I did feel a bit of pressure when I went out to the crease, but I also felt in decent nick. I’ve felt like I’ve been playing quite well the last few weeks and it was good to score some more runs.”
Although mere survival was not Bates' aim at the start of the season, he feels that there are plenty of positives to take from how his players have performed.
“It has been quite a hard season with the Covid-19 disruptions and everything else," he continued.
“We lost three consecutive games to the weather in May and it took us almost half the season to get our first win, even though it felt like we hadn’t played very much cricket.
“But our form in the second half of the season has been much better. We’ve won six times. Some of them were must-win games and more often that not we managed to come out on top when it mattered.
“I think that staying up can be considered a success after the start we had, but that’s not the only positive. We’ve played some really good cricket during the last few months.
“We also have a very young side, many of whom hadn’t played at this level before, and they’ve come on a lot. They’ll be better players for the experience and I think that will mean we’ll do better next year.”