LAST year’s Priestley Cup final triumph was as hollow for Woodlands as a bamboo branch.

It was deflating for them, and the Bradford League as a whole, to win the 2018 decider by default when Farsley forfeited the match, but this season was different as the whooping and the hollering that greeted the Oakenshaw club’s four-wicket victory over New Farnley at Undercliffe suggested.

After the uncertainty of whether the match would even be played – this time because of the weather rather than a club fielding an understrength team on the reserve date – the 2019 final went ahead on time after Alan Douglas and his ground crew cut another wicket closer to the pavilion after rain had seeped under the covers on the original strip, affecting the wicket and the bowlers’ run-up at the scoreboard end.

And the contest was dominated by two batsmen – Adam Waite for New Farnley and Brad Schmulian for Woodlands.

The holders won the toss and, not surprisingly, opted to bowl.

New Farnley, winners in 2017, grafted their way to 32-0 but after Chris Brice – who else? – had taken two wickets in his first over to trigger a collapse to 33-3 it then became a matter of who could stay with man-of-the-match Waite to rebuild the innings.

Alex Lilley fleetingly promised to do that but it wasn’t until Max Law – son of Australian Test player Stuart – came to the wicket that Waite found a more permanent ally.

Slowly at first due to their score of 87-6 in the 33rd over and then more rapidly, Waite, who employed his full repertoire of shots, including the scoop and the reverse sweep, and Law added 91 unbroken.

Waite, who batted through the innings, facing 139 balls and hitting 14 fours and two sixes, sacrificed the personal gain of a possible ton for the sake of the team, finishing on 97 not out, while Law ended up unbeaten on 29.

Brice’s 10 overs cost 23 runs for those two wickets, giving him a remarkable 2019 Priestley Cup analysis of 8-77 off 26.3 overs, while Scott Richardson showed that a little pace off the ball was perhaps an asset with his 3-28 off 10.

Alex Baldwin’s rush of blood to Brice’s second ball gave Greg Finn an easy stumping, and the New Farnley opener was followed to the pavilion three balls later by Steve Bullen, who gloved to the keeper.

Scott Richardson got in on the act when Dan Hodgson was well pouched low in the slip cordon by Schmulian, and it was 51-4 when New Farnley skipper Lee Goddard was caught and bowled by Scott Richardson.

It became clear that someone needed to stay with Waite, but Lilley was bowled for 13 by Kez Ahmed, while Charlie Parker could not keep a square cut on the deck and was caught at point.

Waite’s 50 came up in the 39th over and he timed the ball sweetly after that, rightly trusting Law to support him at the other end.

At least Waite’s effort had given New Farnley a decent shot at their second Priestley Cup triumph and, on an afternoon when the odd spot of rain or a chilly breeze never seemed far away, tension was high after the tea interval.

A discussion point was whether Woodlands had got away, for a couple of overs, with having too many fielders on the leg side (a 6-3 field rather than a 5-4), while other talking points were the ferocity of New Farnley’s appealing and a green and white gazebo that went flying over the wall near the scorebox, aided by a gust of wind, and damaged a car!

Woodlands opener Sam Frankland was an early lbw victim of Lilley, and Tim Jackson was caught by Waite off the equally persevering left-arm over bowler Parker to make it 27-2, and the latter chipped in again by dismissing Finn, caught by Goddard as Woodlands slipped to 41-3.

The run rate was never a problem, however, as they needed a further 138 off 34.5 overs, and Liam Collins dropped that asking rate markedly by hitting off-spinner Dave McCallum for 22 runs in his opening over – three sixes and a four.

Goddard bravely kept McCallum on and was rewarded when Collins was caught by Andrew Brewster in his next over for 35 off 42 balls, but the damage had been done in that 65-ball 59-run partnership.

Schmulian, who only hit six fours in his unbeaten 68, was happy to take singles as New Farnley could not both save boundaries and ones, and even though he lost skipper Cieran Garner, who became Lilley’s second lbw victim, and Scott Richardson, who unnecessarily ran himself out, Schmulian went on his merry way to see the Woodies home.

Muhammad Bilal took the run rate even more out of the equation by hitting 37 not out off 24 balls, including four fours and two sixes, in an unbroken stand of 48.

Although he won the match with a six over long on, Bilal’s innings sensibly went from quick to slower with the winning line in sight, which was crossed with four wickets and 4.5 overs to spare to give Woodlands their third Priestley Cup triumph in four years.

Lilley and Parker both strived manfully to take 2-28, while Brewster was discipline itself in only conceding nine runs in his six overs.

McCallum ended with 1-51 off six – expensive in the context of the game but he did have to bowl to left-hander Collins with a short boundary on the leg side – a problem Luke Jarvis faced to the right-handed Schmulian.

Leaders Woodlands now turn their attention to completing the double by winning the All Rounder Cricket Bradford Premier League Premier Division title, while New Farnley, who have been a credit to the league since they joined in 2013, will try and push up the table from their current position of eighth.