Woodlands working hard in quest for sixth JCT600 Bradford League championship (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Woodlands working hard in quest for sixth JCT600 Bradford League championship
Five championships in seven seasons means that Woodlands are used to being top of the pile at the end of the JCT600 Bradford League season.
However, leading the pack after two matches is more unusual for Pieter Swanepoel’s team.
“We have prepared for this season in the same way that we prepare for every season,” revealed former Yorkshire bowler Swanepoel.
“Quite a few of the lads travel a lot to get to winter nets and we put 100 per cent into our pre-season training.
“Our wicket-keeper Usman Salim has worked really hard and is looking particularly sharp.”
Swanepoel added: “We knew that many of our big games were coming early, so we had to be on the ball from the off.”
That attitude has only been strengthened by Woodlands’ cup draws, as they travel to St Lawrence on Sunday in the second round of the Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup and face Central Yorkshire League giants Wrenthorpe at home in the Solly Sports Heavy Woollen Cup.
They could also face the Wakefield side away in the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions’ Trophy.
Swanepoel isn’t daunted by niche opponents or travelling away, however, saying: “There isn’t much difference between playing away or at home.
“People keep going on about our wicket but we scored 232-8 on it on the first day of the season, which was the highest score in either of the two divisions that day.”
Swanepoel, who is now 35, might quip about the ball coming slower out of his hand these days but he has still taken 5-43 against Hanging Heaton on May 5 and 4-57 last weekend when Woodlands squeezed past Cleckheaton by four runs.
“I have never been fast but I have always had good control,” said the South African-born player, “and Sarfraz Ahmed and myself like bowling as a pair.”
With the weather having played such a large role in the season so far, the table is still in an embryonic stage, and Swanepoel is expecting basement club Pudsey Congs to mount a title challenge down the line.
“As for the cup, it depends on the draws.”
Mills, who like Woodlands and St Lawrence have won their opening two matches, are at fifth-placed Saltaire in another tasty clash, while fourth-placed Lightcliffe host East Bierley. Top match in Division Two is the visit of leaders Gomersal to third-placed Yeadon.