There’s something special about the 100-year old Sykes Cup when Delph & Dobcross are concerned, who seem to always find a way to step up to the occasion when it matters. The current holders came through a dramatic semi-final at Riley Lane that wasn’t unlike the edge-of-your-seat World Cup Final which unfolded in parallel. In fact, at a curious point in the second innings, just as the tension was turning up a notch, the bustling perimeter seemed eerily deserted as the majority of the spectators convened inside the clubhouse to watch Stokes, Buttler et al execute their gripping comeback mission at Lords. Earlier on, Toby Booth’s side had been inserted by new Delph skipper Alex Peters (Louis Aspeling had been captain up until two weeks earlier). It started to look like a possible error as Kirkburton steadily built a stern total to the chagrin of Delph’s bowlers. A 79-run second wicket partnership between Andrew Smith (29) and Alexander Scholefield erased the memory of the loss of the first wicket which left them stunned at 2-1 off Muhammad Shakir’s (3-57) first delivery. Scholefield (61) went on to score a half-century despite losing Smith, run out to quick reactions from Luke Hargreaves. Sri-Lankan Pro Roscoe Tahttil (43) displayed patience under growing pressure but when he along with skipper Booth (25) were removed, Kirkburton weren’t able to push further and put the game beyond Delph. Their bowlers, despite throwing away over fifty runs in extras, finished the innings strongly to prevent the tail from wagging. As it was, Kirkburton's 237-9 total felt about par and set up an intriguing challenge for cup holders Delph to meet.
On a wicket that was reasonably true, yet slightly slow-scoring, Delph kept the scoreboard ticking along enough to stay in the contest, although Muhammad Shakir (7) wasn’t alert enough for a quick run which saw him run out attempting to regain lost ground. Mosun Hussain (50) replicated his half-century at the same stage last season before he fell to a low catch at cover by Tahttil. Captain Alex Peters (26) and overseas Rehan Afridi (0) had also fallen to the excellent bowling of Andrew Smith (3-39) before that point which left Delph in a pickle with a rising required run rate to contend with. Two more quick wickets fell to leave the visitors hanging by a thread on 125-6 which tempted Booth to go for the kill by leaving his experienced bowlers Scholefield (1-37) and Smith (3-39) to bowl through, rather than leaving a few overs in reserve. Adam Hayes and Luke Hargreaves managed to see off the imminent danger before building a partnership themselves. Hayes (10) was unfortunate to be trapped LBW by Tahttil (1-47) prompting a final throw of the dice from Hargreaves, who was then joined by Umer Yaqoob. Young Kirkburton opening bowler Aaron Moore returned and promptly received some brutal treatment from Hargreaves with 24 runs scored off his over to pull Delph back into the match. Once the drama at Lords had finished, Delph summoned an extra gear to pile on the runs with Hargreaves (70no) sending the ball sailing over the long boundary with ease on several occasions. Yaqoob (26no) was happy for his teammate to take the lead as the hosts' lead eroded away with Delph reaching 238-7 with 15 balls remaining; a 74-run winning partnership between them.