Cricket: Harlow CC perform the great escape!!

Cricket / Mon 26th Aug 2019 at 07:49am

Weekend Round Up 24th August

IT’S certainly a stereotype but one with a fair degree of truth to it. Australian sportsmen & women do not ever give up and that’s especially true of their cricketers. (one wishes I had started this article after Ben Stokes heroics on Sunday and not before) Deep down its secretly a trait that is admired across the world, even in England during an Ashes year. So, when the First Team’s entire season is lying in wreckage on a scorching day at Leigh on Sea against the champions elect when six down for hardly anything, who better to pin your last hopes on than two Aussies, albeit one fully fledged and the other an honorary Antipodean via Harlow and Upminster. Jason McNally and Mitch Howarde take a bow. Robert Halfon give them the freedom of the town! From 34-6 they combined to pull off one of the greatest escapes in the club’s history one the most important day of the campaign to date.

Jason McNally was to see the game out to the very end with a magnificent 92 not out whilst lower order batsman Howarde scored 47 in a superb 101 run partnership before he fell having given Harlow a real chance of the win. Dogged batting from James Butler and two lusty late blows from Waheed Azam ensured McNally’s brilliant innings wasn’t to be wasted as Harlow scrambled home by 2 wickets.

Elsewhere, the Second XI produced a fine all-round performance, chiefly inspired by a destructive 87 not out from Charlie Coleman, as they beat and swapped places in the promotion positions with rivals Gidea Park & Romford CC.

Unfortunately, things did not go the way of the Harlow sides in the remaining fixtures despite an excellent 7 over spell of 5-19 from Tyler Dobson for the 3rd XI. Rizwan’s 4TH XI were well beaten in a tricky match at Frenford losing some of their comfort zone but certainly not a terminal defeat by any stretch. The young 5th XI were well beaten by Epping Foresters 2nd XI which was always likely to be a tough game as it so proved.

First XI

Having won the toss Leigh elected to bat, no doubt a slightly defensive measure to secure maximum bonus points to consolidate their leading margin in the league table, and despite losing Jon Edwards run out by Waheed Azam for 8 they made rapid progress as Jack Wagstaff hammered a series of early boundaries. Luke Monger knocked over his stumps for 41 and three balls later he repeated the trick bowling the highly dangerous Dean Waller for a duck. At 59-3 Harlow were on top but with opening bowlers McNally and Monger understandably tiring in the heat, Ryan Jessey turned to a combination of Mitch Howarde and Sarfraz Ahmed. The pair were to superbly bowl unchanged as they maintained control of the scoring rate taking regular wickets with only Joe Sexton (25) able to make any runs of note. It was a very satisfied visiting Harlow side at the break having dismissed the champions elect for only 170.

Mitch Howarde 4-57 (15 overs), Sarfraz Ahmed 3-36 (15.4 overs), Luke Monger 2-30 (9 overs) and Jason McNally 0-28 (8 overs)

The Achilles Heel of the First XI has been batting second, most notably the debacle of the previous week against Walthamstow, and once again our innings started in chaos despite a new look opening pair at the top of the innings. Within no time at all the baggy greens season looked just about over after slumping to a new low of one run for the loss of four wickets with two batsmen out first ball. 1-4 swiftly became 34-6 and surely all hope was lost. Much like England on Sunday, the only glimmer of hope was Harlow’s equivalent of Ben Stokes (Jason McNally) was still at the crease partnered by ‘the never likely to fly the white flag’ Mitch Howarde. McNally decided attack was the only option available and struck boundaries from an early stage in his innings whilst Howarde played the perfect supporting role by rotating the strike and adding the odd four himself.

Just as hopes were becoming seriously inflated Howarde was caught and bowled by Paul Humphries for 47 leaving Harlow 133-7 with plenty of work still to be done. James Butler joined McNally and he carried on the Howarde role whilst McNally by this stage was well set and attacking every delivery. They added a quick 30 to take us to within sight of an amazing victory when Butler fell to Sexton for 10. Enter Waheed Azam. The big fast bowler has not been required to bend his back earlier in the day but had clearly decided his participation was to be more than just a catch and a run out. He blocked his first ball and then incredibly smashed the next two for four to secure a win that looked totally out of reach barely two hours earlier. The outstanding Jason McNally was left 92 not out and it is far from an exaggeration to say his knock had saved the entire season for his side.

Promotion rivals Westcliff also won chasing down 240 at Ardleigh Green leaving the 1’s in third place still two points behind the aforementioned Westcliff. Last game of the season Westcliff versus Harlow. Wow!!!

Second XI

On Marigolds skipper Coldwell won the toss and inserted promotion rivals Gidea Park & Romford. The conditions screamed bat but in the Timed format a team can only have control of the match by batting second and it was therefore no surprise Rob took this option with his side needing the win with a greater degree of urgency more than the opposition.

Callum Sykes opened the bowling with pace and good control, conceding very few runs from his end, whilst Matt Hart was a little more wayward but produced a beauty to dismiss Callum Poultney, very well caught at first slip by Jake Messenger, for only 5. This brought the visitors best batsmen to the crease in Phil Walker and along with the remaining opener Jeff Thomas they rattled along at over 5 an over up to the first drinks break when a potential first innings score of around 300 looked a genuine possibility.

Rob Coldwell then made the inspired decision to bowl spin at both ends with Jake Messenger operating in tandem with Ben Yeats. Together they put the brakes on, applied the hand break and pretty much stuck the Gidea Park innings into reverse as the next 20 over period dawdled along at around two an over. Messenger dismissed Walker and Thomas for 35 and 39 respectively and added a third wicket of number 4 bat Sam Little to boot. Yeats will consider himself unlucky that his excellent control (the opening eight overs of his spell only going for 13) was added to in the wickets column due to dropped catches and a stumping that keeper Andre Riddell was completely convinced was clearly out but not given but both spinners had done a fine job for their skipper.

The dropped catches were a blot on an otherwise efficient fielding performance but it did allow middle order batsmen Islam and Muntakim to eventually settle and add 50 together as they became more comfortable with the spin on offer. At 169-5 Sunni Ali was introduced into the attack and with his first ball he broke the partnership aided by a boundary catch from Lewis Aldred. The innings subsided quickly from that point as Sykes and Ali claimed a further wicket along with three run outs effected by Hart, Ali and Sykes to leave the visitors 192 all out in 47.5 overs.

Jake Messenger 3-44 (14 overs), Sunni Ali 2-5 (2.5 overs), Callum Sykes 1-33 (10 overs), Matt Hart 1-41 (5 overs), Ben Yeats 0-43 (12 overs) and Lewis Aldred 0-14 (4 overs)

In reply, Harlow made a dogged start as Coldwell and Yeats sought to see off the new ball. The skipper went LBW for 10, although he looked far from happy with the decision, bringing Max Baulcomb to the wicket. With Yeats playing the anchor role (and finding the fielders with unnerving accuracy) Baulcomb scored freely adding a run a ball 29 before lofting a catch to mid-on. When John Perry was bowled shortly afterwards leaving the baggy greens on 69-3 and a required rate of around 5 an over the match was in the balance. Charlie Coleman very quickly re-asserted the home sides control as he batted with increasing fluency as he added 53 with Yeats before the opener perished walking down the wicket to seamer Muntakim for 40.

Joined at the crease by Andre Riddell, Coleman played superbly as the pair ran with impressive urgency between the wickets with Coleman also finding the boundary with ease bringing Harlow home to a fine 6 wicket victory with almost 7 overs to spare as he concluded 87 not out with twelve fours and two sixes.

The 2nd XI up to second place again in the table then but it may well take two further wins in the brace of games remaining to secure promotion due to the close nature of the league table.

Third XI

On Spicers the visitors Shenfield won the toss and batted first. Avun Gautham got his side of to a brisk start with 61 and Harlow were facing down the barrel with Shenfield well set at 120-2. Enter Tyler Dobson who produced an outstanding spell of 5-19 in 7 overs to completely change the course of the innings. Bowling an excellent line and length and challenging the stumps he collected two caught and bowled dismissals and two bowled in his five for as the opposition collapsed under the pressure of such bowling. Dan Stone, whilst a little expensive, chipped in with three wickets as Shenfield were dismissed for 202.

Tyler Dobson 5-19 (7 overs), Dan Stone 3-77 (10.4 overs), Dave ‘Commando’ Whelhams 1-21 (7 overs), Muhammed Faisal 0-20 (4 overs) and Joe Riddell 0-36 (8 overs)

Ian Nuttall, promoted from the 4th XI, got Harlow off to a good start making 42 but despite support from Asad Baig (24) and Simon Baulcomb (29) the innings faded badly with former Harlow Colt, Ollie Todd, claiming three wickets for Shenfield as we closed all out for 177 to lose by 25 runs.

One more victory from the final two games is needed for the 3’s to secure their place in the top flight of 3rd XI cricket for another year.

Fourth XI

A hugely disappointing day for Rizwan’s side. Pre-match issues with player availability, a delayed start and a heavy defeat were not what was anticipated as they looked to secure a well-deserved promotion. Full details await but Frenford made 232 all out but sadly our side could only muster 150 all out in 36 overs.

However, post-match Rizwan’s mood would have improved considerably when discovering their main rivals and lost and drawn respectively with the net result on the day of a further increase in their lead over the third placed side now a massive 41 points. On the cusp of promotion needing just 10 points but knowing this team they’ll achieve it in the most remarkable and unexpected fashion.

Fifth XI

It was always likely to be a difficult day for a 5th XI fielding eight Colts, five of whom were aged only 13, against the strongest side in the division (Epping Foresters 2nd XI. So it proved.

Batting first Jon Allen and James Forde made a good start but when Allen fell for 24 scoring became difficult for the young players as Harlow struggled to muster 124-7. On a positive note 13-year-old players all made good contributions including Forde (33), Oliver Allen (18) and Matthew Fisk (11 not out). Young Allen and Fisk adding 30 for the sixth wicket.

Despite Foresters reaching the target without losing a wicket all the players kept going until the end showing good attitude and character.

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