East Bierley's hopes pinned on overseas player

Keighley News: Tabbi Bhatti was East Bierley's all-round star in their league win over Pudsey Congs, scoring 68 not out and taking 2-26 Tabbi Bhatti was East Bierley's all-round star in their league win over Pudsey Congs, scoring 68 not out and taking 2-26

Signing an overseas player can sometimes be a gamble.

But East Bierley, who are third from bottom in JCT600 Bradford League Division One, are hoping that recruiting Mohammad Irshad can transform their season.

The 30-year-old pace bowler, who can also use the long handle (is he another Safraz Ahmed?), has played over 100 first-class matches in Pakistan and has taken over 300 wickets, plus another 100 in one-day or twenty20 matches.

“He has been recommended to us by both our former player Jaffer Nazir and Mohammed Azharullah, and he is supposed to be arriving tomorrow,” said Bierley’s long-standing official Ray Davis, leaving the end of the sentence hanging in the air.

Bierley’s initial problem this season was runs as they were dismissed by Lightcliffe for 109 and Pudsey St Lawrence for 113 in losing their first two matches of the season.

However, the South View Road club revived over the first double weekend, Tabbi Bhatti (68) and Luke Jarvis (4-47) inspiring them in the league defeat of Pudsey Congs before Gomersal were flayed by Gavin Hamilton in the Priestley Cup, the former England and Scotland international hitting four sixes and 17 fours in an unbeaten 152 as Bierley won by 138 runs.

But, as the campaign so far suggests, Davis reckons that Bierley, while not expecting to be in a relegation battle, lack the consistency to be challenging for the title.

However, he added: “You never know. A lot depends on Mohammad Irshad.”

Availability can be an issue for Bierley, though, with, for example, Davis having to pull his whites on to make up the numbers for the first team on the opening day of the season.

He added: “Losing Yassir Abbas to Hoylandswaine two weeks before the season began was a big blow as it didn’t give us much chance to get a replacement.”

Step in Mr Irshad.

Bierley are at Bradford & Bingley on Saturday, with Davis calling that a good test before they host improving Idle on Sunday in the second round of the Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup.

After that comes a home match against Yeadon (May 24), which Davis is expecting Bierley to win, before a difficult three-match swing at Cleckheaton (May 26), home to Morley (May 31) and home to Woodlands (June 7).

Elsewhere on Saturday there is a top v bottom clash with basement club Yeadon hosting Farsley, and similar scenarios with Lightcliffe’s trip to second-placed Pudsey St Lawrence and Pudsey Congs’ visit to Woodlands.

Match of the day in Division Two is second-placed Undercliffe entertaining third-placed Hartshead Moor, while fourth-placed Idle are at Baildon, who are a position below them.

Leaders Keighley host struggling Spen Victoria.

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