Cricket: All down to the final week for Harlow CC

Cricket / Mon 2nd Sep 2019 at 07:37am

Weekend Round Up 31st August

ANOTHER strong weekend for Harlow CC with their First, Third and Fourth XI all recording victories whilst the Second XI drew. Only the Fifth team lost but there were many positives even in that defeat. A final over triumph for the Fourth XI ensured that Rizwan Qayyum’s side achieved promotion with a game to spare, a marvellous feat considering they play in the Third XI divisions of the Shepherd Neame Essex Senior League. Rizwan has led the side superbly all season as evident in some of the remarkable victories secured earlier in the season in games that appeared all but lost. Combining some mature, experienced cricketers with some talented younger players the side has a terrific dynamic and the chemistry works exceeding well.

First XI

On Marigolds, Ryan Jessey’s side knew nothing less than 25 points would be sufficient as they desperately tried to overhaul promotion rivals, Westcliff on Sea, two-point lead over them. An important toss was won and Harlow duly elected to bat and proceeded to dominate the match from the opening over. Openers Ben Yeats and Syed Hassan saw the side off to a terrific start adding 62 inside the opening 10 overs before Syed was trapped leg before to Usman Maqbool for 36. Senior all-rounder, Jason McNally, joined Yeats at the crease and the scoring rate soared yet further as 98 runs were accumulated over the next ten overs until Yeats was bowled attempting to drive a yorker for a well-made, run a ball, 57.

By this stage McNally was in full flight, punishing the bowling, reaching his half century in only 31 deliveries as he and Rehman Ahmed barely allowed a single dot ball to disturb the flow of runs. Twenty balls later McNally had another hundred to his seasons collection although he looped a simple catch shortly afterwards to depart with 104 to his name in 51 balls.

Sadly, for the struggling West Essex side in the field this failed to stem the onslaught as Rehman struck some of enormous sixes as the supporters on the clubhouse veranda and the pavilion roof were peppered by cricket balls struck like missiles.

After 35 overs of total carnage Jessey called a halt to the proceedings with Rehman 71 not out (from a mere 42 balls) and Lee Jessey 14 not out with Charlie Coleman having made a 26-run cameo himself from only 15 deliveries. A season’s best 331-4 declared from 35 overs then allowing a huge 60 overs to dismiss the bottom of the table opposition for the maximum points win required.

Any concerns that the visitors might try and block out for a draw were dispelled within the first delivery from Waheed Azam. Opener, Yasir Ghayes, threw the kitchen sink at it taking a thick outside edge that swirled in the air over Charlie Coleman’s shoulder but at the fourth attempt he hauled in the difficult catch for the best possible start. Fresh from scoring a hundred with the bat, Jason McNally then proceeded to bowl 16 overs unchanged from the Footpath End. His constant pace coupled with some threatening short pitch deliveries were too much for many of the West Essex batsman as he took 6-43, one of the wickets aided by a stunning one-handed catch at gully from Waheed. Sharing the duties at the Pavilion End was Sarfraz Ahmed and he took the remaining three wickets, in fact he could and should have had at least four as two simple catches were downed in the outfield from his leg spin. As rain threatened briefly, the final wicket was taken leaving the floundering visitors all out for 109 for a crushing Harlow victory by 222 runs.

Jason McNally 6-43 (16 overs), Sarfraz Ahmed 3-32 (10.2 overs), Waheed Azam 1-19 (6 overs)

Sadly, for Harlow, news drifted in during the course of the evening that rivals Westcliff had won batting first at Stanford le Hope to claim their own 25 points ensuring the gap between the two sides remained at 2 points (in favour of the seasiders) entering the final week of the season. All the more galling when discovering that Westcliff at one stage were 130-9 and saved by a 71 run last wicket partnership. That last remaining fixture? Had to be – it’s Westcliff v Harlow with everything on the line. One will be promoted and the other facing a further year in Shepherd Neame Senior Division 3.

Second XI

Facing their own critical promotion fixture at Westcliff on Sea the Second XI were left simmering with frustration as the home sides negativity effectively may have consigned both teams to missing out on promotion. Rob Coldwell won the toss and inserted the home side who made a glorious start plundering runs at will. It took excellent spells from Lewis Aldred (3-40) and Amir Farooq (3-56) to wrestle some degree of control but despite the ever-increasing runs on the board the home skipper refused to declare and batted out his full quota of 50 overs. In the Timed format of the game the team batting second face 45 overs and the target of 255 to win was always likely to be a very stiff challenge especially if early wickets were lost.

Lewis Aldred 3-40 (9 overs), Amir Farooq 3-56 (14 overs), Sunni Ali 1-31 (5 overs), Matt Hart 0-28 (7 overs), John Perry 0-21 (4 overs), Callum Sykes 0-36 (6 overs) and Jake Messenger 0-35 (5 overs)

In reply, wickets fell just at times when Harlow desperately needed to build a big partnership and from the half way point victory seemed well out of reach and avoiding defeat became imperative. Max Baulcomb top scored with 77 not out, Jack Sykes made 30 and Amir Farooq 21 not out but we finished well short on 190-6.

The mood in the camp didn’t improve when hearing that Gidea Park & Romford, who Harlow had beaten so convincingly last week, had secured a 25-point win and leap frogged both Westcliff and themselves into the promotion places. Harlow face bottom side Orsett & Thurrock on the final day of the season whilst Gidea Park host midtable Ardleigh Green. With the gap now at 8 points in favour of Gidea Park, any form of win will consign our Second XI to another season in their current division and would be a bitter end to such a promising season.

Third XI

A terrible run of recent form had placed the 3’s in real danger of relegation from the 3rd XI Premier division. The slide had to be halted at home to Harold Wood on Spicers and it was with aplomb. Having decided to bat first the visitors were totally blown away by Joe Riddell (5-27) and Mudasser Naeem (5-61) as they were knocked over for 107 in 28 overs. Riddell also taking three catches in the process

Joe Riddell 5-27 (14.2 overs), Mudasser Naeem 5-61 (12 overs), Dan Stone 0-12 (2 overs)

The runs were knocked off in swift fashion with Asad Baig grabbing a quick 39 and skipper Faz Javed making 22 as we took the all-important win by 6 wickets.

The victory has moved Harlow 11 points above the drop zone but with four teams below them only a catastrophic turn of events next week would see them lose their place along with the best 3rd XI sides in the county.

Fourth XI

Huge congratulations to the Fourth XI on achieving promotion to 3rd XI Division 2 next season. They won at Gidea Park & Romford in the final over to secure their elevation to the next flight after a marvellous season. Superbly captained all year, by Rizwan Qayyum, the side all seem to love their cricket and each other’s company on and off the field despite being a diverse group in terms of age and experience.

Put into bat Harlow amassed 213 all out with Abdullah Farooq making 99 only to be caught going for his maiden Harlow century. I’m sure with his ability he will have other opportunities to reach the milestone in the near future but he had laid the platform for a winning total.

In the field, Myles Baldock produced a fine opening salvo taking 3-17 to rock the home side but the number three batsman, S. Elahi, batted well making 84 before his resistance was broken by Syed Ali who was in the middle of a spell in which he took 5-32. With time running out and in the very last over Ali Zahid captured the final wicket sending the Harlow lads into celebrations.

Syed Ali 5-32 (10 overs), Myles Baldock 3-17 (9 overs), Irfan 1-17 (5 overs), Ali Zahid 1-47 (11 overs), Abdullah Farooq 0-30 (7 overs), Nathan McCarthy 0-12 (1 over)

Fifth XI

The young Fifth XI played Hawks and put the opposition into bat. Unfortunately, the opening pair both scored at will making 132 and 74 respectively although the Fives stuck at their task superbly to take a series of late wickets with Matt Fisk taking 4., James Forde 2 and Oliver Allen 2. Hawks made 316 all out.

In reply young opener, James Forde, carried his bat making 105 not out. Jon Allen added 41 as we fell short but on a very creditable 237-4.

Still lots to play for next weekend then. The First team travel to Westcliff for what will be an epic encounter for promotion whilst Rob Coldwell’s 2nd’s can do no more than claim a good win on Marigolds and hope for help from elsewhere to secure their promotion. The Third XI need a few more points to be doubly safe whilst the Fourth XI can relax and enjoy their afternoon safely promoted already. For the Fifth XI, many of their young players should be looking to impress for their own development and progression through the club next season.

For those unable to travel to Westcliff, and it seems like there will be sizeable support, the entire fixture will be live scored on Play Cricket.

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