One-club Luke Hargreaves leaves Delph after 30 years

LOYAL one-club cricketer Luke Hargreaves has left Delph after a 30-year playing stint.

The 42-year-old, a Delpher since birth and who lived in the village until five years ago when he moved to Royton, has stepped away due to work and family commitments.

But Luke went out in a blaze of glory with a match-winning knock in the last game of the season in the Huddersfield League at home to Scholes.

Luke, described as a destructive lower-order batsman, was given a guard of honour as he was promoted to open the innings.

Guard of honour for Luke Hargreaves

He was top scorer with 73 runs, his joint third highest innings, as Delph amassed 241-7 before bowling out Scholes for 136.

And Luke also needed one catch, which proved elusive, to create a club record as he is tied with Graeme Simpson with 186.

Luke, one of Delph’s longest-serving players, played 620 first team matches totalling 4,713 runs.

There was only one century, but that was a memorable one in a T20 match at Micklehurst where he made 109 from only 42 balls after some explosive hitting.

“I reached my century in the 11th over and out in the next one,” he reflected.

“I had been on course for only my second one in my last match before being run out for 73.”

Luke, who hit 11 half centuries, began his playing days at Delph aged 12 when he was an aggressive bowler.

He enjoyed his first taste of senior cricket in the second team, tutored and inspired by experienced senior players such as Ray Jones and Roy Tomkinson who have since sadly died.

Luke collected a Tanner Cup winners’ medal in his first season in the first team during the final season in the Saddleworth League before joining the Huddersfield League in 1999.

And he played the first 10 matches in the debut season as Delph raced to the Section B title with promotion at the first time of asking.

Luke added he has been lucky to play alongside some top professionals at Delph with South African Brandon Nash arguably the finest.

However, he had also lined up alongside Indian Test player Wasim Jaffer, IPL player Shreevats Goswami, Pakistani Bilal Khilji, former Yorkshire captain Matthew Wood and ex-Lancashire all-rounder Arron Lilley.

A tribute on Delph’s website read: “The popular figure soon found a valuable place in the side as a destructive lower-order batsman, typically best placed to come in with around 10 overs to go and let loose on tiring bowlers.

“However, he became one of the best fielders in the league as we established ourselves as one of the leading teams. The safest pair of hands you’d ever likely to see, he has taken 186 outfield catches, level with Graeme Simpson at the top of the charts.

“One of his finest moments came in the T20 in 2011. Having lost a group match, the club needed to win at neighbours Micklehurst with a very high run rate to ensure qualification into the knockout stages.

“Luke and Faisal Butt opened the batting on this occasion, looking to get off to a whirlwind start. It became more of a hurricane with Hargreaves smashing 109 runs from 42 balls sending nine sixes over the ropes with 10 fours. His partner, Butt hit 115 runs from 43 deliveries as we exceeded the margin required on a memorable night at Castle Hill.”

Another outstanding performance came in the semi-final of the Sykes Cup at Kirkburton in 2019.

Chasing a solid first innings total, a mini collapse brought Luke into the middle with Delph needing around 100 runs to win with just three wickets remaining.

Luke sensibly bided his time. The opportunity came as he ruthlessly targeted the more inexperienced bowlers to send Delph into a seventh Sykes Cup final. He finished 70 not out off the same number of balls with seven fours and six sixes.

He helped Delph win two Huddersfield League titles, three Sykes Cup victories and three T20 wins.

In his first Sykes Cup success in 2012, Delph were indebted to Luke against Shepley as he scored 32 runs off 20 balls.

The tribute continued: “As a club, we are intensely proud of the commitment Luke has shown over his 23 seasons as a first team player.

“The fierceness and competitiveness he has played the game and the modest, mellow character he is off the field is an inspiration to any young cricketer making their way in the game. You are a credit to the club and in some ways, completely irreplaceable.”

Luke, who works for Astra Signs, will not be severing his ties with Delph saying he will be helping to get the ground ready for the 2022 season and he will still be following their fortunes.

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