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Cricket: Harlow 1sts grab defeat with batting collapse

Cricket / Tue 1st Jun 2021 at 09:03am

SHORTLY after 3pm Harlow CC supporters following the First XI at Bentley were deciding what to do with the extra time afforded to them by the impending crushing victory about to be achieved. The bowling unit had produced an outstanding display to rout the home batting backed up by a level of intensity in the field that had not been matched this season.

Forty painful overs later it was hard not to consider their season was in tatters after a shattering defeat entirely of their own making. 

Having won the toss Bentley decided to make first use of a green and slightly spongy deck but a par score looked around 200. Opening duo Callum Sykes and Sarfaraz Ahmed began in outstanding fashion. Sykes bowling at good pace with added movement off the surface whilst Sarfaraz was at his bamboozling best. Both took a brace in each in their first spells leaving the home side at a desperate 23-4 after 11 overs.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the dominance being exerted, Skipper Jake Messenger changed it up bringing on Mark Quant and Abdullah Farooq but it worked in spectacular fashion. Quant was bowling hooping left arm in-swingers whilst 16 year old Farooq nagged away just short of a length. The pair took a further 4 wickets and at 38-8 the home side were checking they had passed their lowest ever league total. 

A stubborn 9th wicket partnership added 30 odd before Sykes returned to blow over the resistance to claim four wickets in the innings.

The fielding was excellent and surely it was job done as the home side closed on 79 all out.

Sykes 4-29 (11.4), Quant 3-5 (7), Sarfaraz 2-9 (8), Farooq 1-8 (6) and Messenger (J) 0-15 (4)

Frankly, what happened next was an embarrassment to the club. Its no secret that there is a fragility to the First XI batting at times but nothing could prepare those watching for the diabolical effort made to chase the runs. The home side bowled well but at the last count at least 6 Harlow batsmen simply gave their wicket away. Whereas our wickets had been achieved by excellent deliveries to batsmen trying to play properly our wickets were gift wrapped and handed over. Bill Sorensen might actually be right – he still possibly could do better.

The opening overs saw us fall to 3-4 with four of the top 5 batsmen all dismissed for ducks. Only 18 year old Ben Yeats stood firm joined by the even younger Abi Farooq. The pair blocked watchfully and the occasional run scoring opportunity was taken. Slowly the noise in the field subsided as they showed others how to bat in the circumstances adding 50 with Yeats the dominant scorer. A wicket didn’t look to be coming and those on behind the boundary rope began to relax until Yeats (who made 38) was adjudged LBW off his thigh pad!!!. It wasn’t pretty but runs were slowly chipped off with the odd wicket falling to poorly executed attacking shots. 

Nevertheless at 73-6 and only 7 runs needed for the much needed win Harlow had pulled the iron out the fire but alas no. For some reason, batsmen decided a big hit would be preferable to knocking therm off safely in singles. Wickets fell. Panic set in.and the final 4 wickets fell for 3 runs. The scorer wanted to resign on the spot in protest!!! This would have been unacceptable in Under 11’s cricket never mind the First XI. This report is best left here before the author internally combusts.

On a positive note the Second XI provided a one sided fixture to cheer home supporters at Marigolds to defeat Ardleigh Green. Another superb bowling display from a Harlow side ensured the visitors could only muster 109 all out. Abdul Munim took 4-22, Amir Farooq 3-17 and Waheed Azam 2-12 to grab the headlines.

No worries for Harry Burtons side chasing a small total as Atif Mustehsan and James Forde combined to chase the total down without losing a wicket. Atif made an attacking 70 not out whilst James played a sensible knock of 24 not out.

The Third XI faced a tough challenge in Wansted CC. Batting first Wanted were in choppy waters at 170-8 but late order hitting propelled their total to 256-9 despite Reece Galvin taking 4-44 and Fas Javed 2-26.

In reply, 14 year old Joe Radford made a watchful 48 batting alongside Shanmuga Priyan who smashed an attacking 66. Skipper Rizwan Qayyum added 29 but the innings closed on 201-8.

The Fourth XI also had a challenge in facing Fives 3rd XI.Fives made 254-4 in their allotted overs. Full details are not yet in but a good batting effort saw Harlow narrowly fail to get close making 221-4 with 60 for Nathan McCarthy.

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