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Around the Leagues: Castleford vs Woodlands (YPL final)

— 15 September 2021

Colson Smith’s life is all about lines. So it was no surprise to hear the soap star and cricket nut come out with a few belters ahead of his beloved Castleford’s appearance in Saturday’s Yorkshire Premier League final against Woodlands at Emerald Headingley.

Smith, a familiar face on TV screens up and down the land, is also the director of cricket at recently crowned YPL North champions Cas, who are captained by former Yorkshire spinner David Wainwright.

About those lines, you may ask….

“At Cas and in the league, I’m known as Colson. I’m not known as Craig off Coronation Street,” he said, for one.

Another came with a chuckle: “Wainers was texting me yesterday about what we were planning to do after the game on Saturday, but I was in the Rovers trying to do a scene.

“All I wanted to do was concentrate on the cricket stuff and make sure, whatever happens, we all enjoy the moment. So I was like, ‘Hang on, I’ve got to text Wainers back’.”

Another quickly followed and, for Cas fans, is the most important.

“It’s the biggest game we could possibly play in,” he said. “And we’re excited. To being playing at Headingley makes it all the more special.”

  • Photo credit: Ray Spencer (rayspencerphotography.co.uk)

    Smith, now 23, joined Coronation Street aged 12 as Craig Tinker.

    He had been playing cricket at Castleford since the age of nine: “That was where I made all my friends who I’m still close to now,” he said.

    But it wasn’t long before his playing days were about to hit the rocks – or should that be cobbles?

    “At 15, I worked out that I wasn’t going to be the best cricketer,” he continued. “A few of my mates were going on and playing in the Yorkshire pathways or whatever, but I wasn’t and had a job. So I joined the committee at 15.”

    A couple of years later, he was helping to run the first team.

    “Initially, David Young, the chairman, asked me to help out. It started with me just basically getting some sponsors in,” Smith explained.

    “Then Wainers came in as captain and it moulded into this really good relationship of him as captain and me looking after the admin side, signing people and things like that. We’re best mates.”

    Smith describes Castleford’s progress through to Saturday’s final (10.30am) as “a dream”.

    In 2016, the first year of the Smith-Wainwright partnership at the helm, they were relegated from the YPL North.

    “To be where we are four or five years later with the same group of players is testament to him as captain, the lads and how we’ve developed,” he said.

    But, despite their maiden YPL North title success, Saturday oh so nearly didn’t happen for the Savile Park side because it took a last ball semi-final win against North Yorkshire South Durham champions Richmondshire for them to qualify.

    Defending a 181 target on Saturday just gone, Richmondshire were 179-9 with a ball left. Step forwards Chesney Hughes, who bowled Craig Marshall to spark jubilant celebrations.

    “To win it off the last ball, I wouldn’t like to have known what my heart-rate was,” said Smith. “It must have been a great game to watch as a neutral.”

    The win was made all the more notable for the fact they had to do it without Wainwright, their leading league wicket-taker with 39, due to illness.

    “It was an interesting day,” Smith reflected. “As soon as I had a text from Wainers at 5am saying, ‘I’m not feeling well’, I had a fear of this not going our way.

    “But when we got to the ground at 9, I sat down with the players and told them he wasn’t playing. We’d been in that position before and won without him, and all the lads stood up.

    “Now we’re in the prize game, and it will almost be a marker of how far we’ve come.”

    Left-arm spinner Wainwright will be back at the helm on familiar turf this weekend, while former Derbyshire all-rounder Hughes (435 league runs) will be another key player. But others have stood up impressively.

    Liam Hyde (366 runs) and Eddie Morrison (30 wickets) are just two.

    “We’ve not got a single player who has scored 500 runs in the league, which shows we have really played as a team,” said the DoC. “Everyone has chipped in.

    “We’re a very young side. Wainers is the oldest, then Chesney and Brayden Clark. The rest, it’s all lads I grew up with. We’re all 23 sort of thing.”

    Confidence is clearly high ahead of the final against the Bradford League.

    “Woodlands are a great team and have dominated the Bradford League for some time,” said Smith. “We met them in the Heavy Woollen Cup quarter-final and they came out on top. But we were two players light that day. I’m looking forward to the sides doing battle again.”

    Smith still plays the odd charity game as part of a combined Corrie and Emmerdale team.

    “Being at the forefront of a club like Cas, when clubs put events like that on, I know how much hard work goes into it,” he said. “So if someone’s asking me to play in a game like that, I’m not going to say no.”

    But, in a few days’ time, he will be patrolling the boundaries at Yorkshire’s HQ feeling like a kid at Christmas.

    “It’s my passion project,” he said. “Going to Cas on a Saturday and sitting and watching everyone’s hard work unfold, there’s nothing I enjoy more. It’s the best hobby in the world.”

    And there was still time for one more of those belting lines we mentioned earlier.

    “I’ve got a full day’s work at Corrie on Friday, but my mind will definitely be on Headingley!” added the big Yorkshire fan.

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