WHEN Pudsey St Lawrence’s players walked off the pitch on Sunday, not a word was spoken.

They were speechless and shell-shocked after big-hitting left-hander Muhammad Bilal changed the course of their Priestley Cup quarter-final at Albert Terrace.

Woodlands were under the pump when wily off-spinner Chris Marsden (3-40) and pace bowler Josh Priestley (3-29) got among the wickets.

When well-set pair Brad Schmulian and Liam Collins was dismissed for 57 and 45 respectively, the home side were 149-4, still needing 117 from 13.1 overs.

But that was the moment Bilal came to the crease, and he proceeded to hit smash sixes and three fours in making 81 not off just 40 balls.

That assault propelled last year’s losing finalists Woodlands to a stunning three-wicket win with seven balls to spare.

Bilal, who has been playing for Lancashire Seconds, was deep in conversation with Woodlands secretary Brian Pearson at the tea interval and that pep talk paid off.

The big-hitter had been struggling for form, but asked what Pearson spoke to him about, he said: “Brian told me to back myself and play with freedom, and it was much easier with the ball coming into me to hit it to the short leg-side boundary.

“That is my first big score this season, but bowling wise things are going okay.

“When I’m batting, I just take two to three balls to take singles and after that I play it simply.

“The (Woodlands) boys said to me afterwards that I need to repeat this innings more often.”

Poor Josh Priestley took superb figures of 3-29 and was desperately unlucky to end up on the losing side.Poor Josh Priestley took superb figures of 3-29 and was desperately unlucky to end up on the losing side. (Image: Ray Spencer.)

Pudsey St Lawrence had benefitted from some poor fielding earlier in the day from Woodlands, who dropped five catches in allowing their opponents to post a challenging total of 265 all out.

Experienced skipper Mark Robertshaw opened the batting with fellow veteran Marsden after Saints won the toss, and they scored 53 and 33 respectively to get the innings off to a good start.

Barrie Frankland and Josh Priestley then scored 46 apiece, with the underrated Elliot Richardson Woodlands’ stand-out bowler, taking 2-19 off 7.4 overs, while Schmulian took 3-58 from 10.

Collins and Schmulian added 85 for the third wicket, pressing the accelerator just before the drinks interval, but then it was the Bilal show.

Richardson (14no) rounded off a good day by keeping him company in an unbroken partnership of 50, which completed Woodlands’ sprint to the line.

They now face Townville in the semi-finals on Sunday, July 14, with the other semi-final being between holders Bradford & Bingley and Pudsey Congs at Wagon Lane.

And Townville will be hoping this semi-final goes better than the one they had on Sunday.

They faced holders New Farnley in the last-four of the Heavy Woollen Cup and lost by six wickets, with just one ball to spare.

New Farnley will face either Woodhouse Grange or Wakefield Thornes in the final at Honley on Sunday, August 4.