NEEDING 313 to defeat Richmondshire in only 40 overs, Woodlands skipper Brad Schmulian has revealed that he did have some doubts during the tea interval at Richmondshire.

The home side, winners of the National Club Championship in 2018, had made 312-3 on a great wicket and pacy outfield in a second-round tie.

Schmulian revealed: “I probably didn’t expect us to win at the tea interval because that was a massive score and we have played gritty, lower-scoring cricket (in the Bradford League).

“Winning wasn’t at the front of my mind and we don’t get an opportunity very often to play on such a good wicket.

“We expected to get a few out of the middle and get somewhere close but to do it with four overs left with six wickets in hand was definitely beyond our belief.”

After comprehensively ending Yorkshire Southern Premier League leaders Wakefield Thornes’ unbeaten start to the season, this challenge against the North Yorkshire & South Durham Premier League side was degrees more testing on a day when anyone going to their vehicles in adjacent car parks needed tin helmets.

But, despite throwing away their first two wickets at the picturesque Hurgill Road ground, the wicket was so good, the outfield so fast and the temperament of the visitors so rigid, that Woodlands won by six wickets with four overs to spare in a 40-overs-a-side run fest.

The start was delayed by 20 minutes due to a shower, but no overs were lost, and it soon became apparent that bat would rule over ball.

Skipper Robert Carr (123) and keeper Tom Dowson (67) put on 155 for Richmondshire’s first wicket, with Scott Richardson’s fielding ability on the banking being given a stern test that he came through with flying colours.

Both sides took singles to fielders inside the ring, but the hosts, used to the great width of their field, cannily hit the ball square to takes twos where ones seemed more likely.

Another short shower made no difference to the outfield, and Dowson eventually holed out to Muhammad Bilal off the persevering Tom Clee, who was the only Woodlands bowler to get any change out of the surface.

Dowson’s innings contained eight fours and a glorious straight six that took him to his 50, but Carr found another fine ally in Mike Layfield, who by now had licence to thrill, and reached his half-century with a confident sweep.

Woodlands captain Brad Schmulian eventually caught Layfield at long on off Clee for 66, which came off only 35 balls and contained five fours and four sixes.

Carr, advancing down the track, was eventually bowled by Bilal after a 114-ball stay that included 13 fours and four sixes, and minor roles were then played by 2005 Ashes hero Gary Pratt (12no) and Shafiqullah Ghafari (20no) as Richmondshire set an imposing total.

Would scoreboard pressure do for Woodlands? It seemed a possibility when Sam Frankland (26) was easily run out and his fellow opener Liam Collins skied one to be dismissed for 52, the pinch-hitter’s knock lasting only 28 balls and including six fours and three sixes.

Collins certainly feared the worst for a time, but all that the dismissals did was bring Schmulian and Tim Jackson to the crease.

Woodlands were going at nearly ten an over, so wickets lost seemed to be Richmondshire’s best bet, but Schmulian is so much in control of his game these days, with hardly a false shot, and the men from Albert Terrace took drinks at 173-2 after 20 overs.

Jackson reached his 50 with a neat flick behind square before being lbw to Dale Marshall, a rare event on a day when many vociferous leg-before shouts were turned down.

Schmulian continued on his unflustered way, however, dabbing the ball neatly through the gully for boundaries, and he allowed Clee to take the more aggressive role.

The latter is having a fine season with bat and ball and got to his 50 before being caught at cover in a 36-ball knock that included three fours and three sixes.

By now competition new boys Woodlands didn’t necessarily need a boundary every over and Richmondshire were caught between a rock and a hard place in trying to defend the ropes and stop the singles.

Schmulian finished on 106 not out, made off 75 balls which contained 12 fours and a six, and the coup de grace went to Bilal with a straight four which took Woodlands through to the group final on Sunday, June 19.

Schmulian added: “It is an awesome ground and an awesome club. We decided to open the batting with Liam but he is a free spirit and had some confidence having bowled quite well.

“We are not used to fielding restrictions in the first eight overs either, with only two men out of the ring.

“He gave us the great start that we needed and it took batters five or 10 balls to get used to the conditions, and their opening bowlers bowled quite well.

“But once we got that confidence it gave the new batters the chance to do the same, such as Tim and Tom, who has been doing it all season for us.

“He took that pressure off me and allowed me to play my game. Their overseas bowled quite well and we had to be cautious for a couple of overs, but then Tom would hit a boundary.

“After 25 overs we were ahead of the game but we didn’t want to change the way that we were playing, lose that momentum, lose a couple of wickets and put pressure on ourselves by falling behind the run rate.

“It was a case of see ball, hit ball and make some noise.”