Cricket: Harlow CC First X1 upset the form book with superb display

Cricket / Sun 15th Aug 2021 at 01:23pm

By Andy Yeats

THERE’S been the odd rant within our match day reports over the course of the season but not tonight. The First XI put in an outstanding all round display, arguably their best of the season., to defeat promotion chasing Ardleigh Green by 9 wickets with over 20 overs to spare.

It may be the case that leading our leading wicket taker (Sarfaraz Ahmed) and run scorer (Ben Yeats) returned the eye catching figures for the day but this was about all 11 players making significant contributions. Green went into the fixture unbeaten in 8 and 3rd in the division whilst Harlow were without a win in 9 having slipped to a season low of 13th. A watching neutral would never have guessed from the opening ball.

The return to overs cricket saw the re-introduction of power plays and fielding restrictions. It provides a chance for the batting side to make a fast start. Not today it didn’t. Callum Sykes and Mark Quant were outstanding in their opening 5 over spells ensuring that after 10 overs the home side were 24-2. Sykes fast and hostile complimented by the variation and swing of Quant.

It was Mark Quant who struck first and a crucial decisive blow it was too removing the leagues second highest run scorer, Paul Hurworth, for just 3 as he was induced to mistime a pull shot. Callum was ensuring the young number 3 bat, making his First XI debut after a prolific spell in 2nd XI cricket , had a torrid afternoon. After 17 scoreless balls Sykes beat him for pace with the ball taking the off bail on route to keeper Andre Riddell. 

With Harlow on top after the power play skipper Jake turned to 17 year old Abi Farooq and star leg spinner Sarfaraz Ahmed. There was no let up for the batsmen. Sarfaraz bowled as well as he has all season bowling his 9 overs on the bounce taking 4-23. He took apart the Ardleigh middle order with a couple of the batsmen totally defeated by his variations including opener Alex Casson who until that point had played well for his 24. Key to Sarfaraz success was the pressure maintained at the other end by Abi who bowled a frugal pacy spell of 5 overs increasing the pressure on the batting side. 

Abi was replaced by the returning Harlow legend, Luke Heskett. In the history of the club Luke is arguably the most successful captain we have ever had taking the side to the upper reaches of Division One cricket. With barely a game under his belt he returned to the fold to provide a calm reassurance and support to Jake and the side. Jake and Luke appeared to dovetail superbly on the pitch with constant subtle fielding changes to always keep the batsmen tied down. Luke was turning in a very handy spell of 4 overs for just 12 runs when he tweaked a leg muscle but by that stage Harlow were dominant.

Ben Yeats and Jake Messenger provided off spin at both ends and shared three lower order wickets (two for Jake) before Callum returned to trap last man Chaudrey for nought and close the innings on 108 all out. Credit to Green batsman Chris Cook who made 41 not out and was the only batter to get his head down and have any success building an innings.

Every bowler had contributed but today they were superbly backed up by all in the field. No dropped catches and no fielding error in 35 overs. It was pleasure to watch. 

Sarfaraz 4-23 (9), Messenger 2-16 (4), Sykes 2-8 (5.3), Quant 1-15 (5), Yeats 1-15 (4), Heskett 0-12 (4) and Farooq 0-16 (5)

Only question would be, could the batsman deliver, especially considering we appeared at least one batter light. The unequivical answer was a resounding yes they could.

Ben Yeats and Syed Hassan made use of the fielding restrictions to punish anything not on a good length as we rattled along at over 5 an over. The divisions best opening pair statistically added 59 until Syed missed a straight one having made 25 with some excellent boundary hitting coupled with good running for sharp singles.

The introduction of Zabi Hakimi at 3 dispelled any lingering doubts as he batted in assured fashion to make 20 not out whilst Yeats began to dominant the bowlers pulling and hooking to the boundary when they dropped short and playing one sumptuous on drive for 4 late on. Ben reached his 50 just before the close and ended 56 not out was we won at a canter.

As Luke opined in the bar afterwards, if we reach that level every week it would be Harlow seeking promotion. A damn good day at the office lads. Very well done.

To Marigolds. The Second XI faced a tricky fixture against Belhus and with their promotion challengers Epping and Westcliff matched up against the bottom two sides it was crucial that they didn’t lose ground as they seek an upgrade to Second XI Division One.

Bowling first, Harlow took wickets at regulate intervals. Whilst six visiting batsmen made double figures the highest individual score was 29 as we were able to break partnerships at key times. As with the First XI it was a admirable team effort with wickets shared. Rob Petchey opened the bowling and took an early wicket before he returned to run through the Belhus tail to end with the eye-catching figures of 4-34. Amir Farooq proved his utterly reliable self with 2-11 in 8 overs but there were also wickets for Joe Riddell, Waheed Azam and Thomas Smith-Hughes.

Petchey 4-34 (7.3), Farooq 2-11 (8), Riddell 1-29 (8), Smith-Hughes 1-30 (6), Waheed Azam 1-47 (8) and Munim 0-11 (2)

Chasing 169 to win looked an achievable yet tricky target but not for this side who crashed their way to the win inside 25 overs. All the batsmen made double figures with Rob Petchey launching the bowling to all parts for his 43 off around 20 balls. Asad Baig made 28 to maintain his impressive form whilst John Perry, Munim, Amin and Atif all made scores the teens (JP unbeaten I ought to point out). A fine win. Other results aren’t in yet but at the worst we retain our second place in the table and three games from a deserved promotion.

If you want entertainment and runs galore then the 3rd XI is the place for you. A trip to Woodford Wells saw a classic match with over 500 runs, plenty of wickets and a win for Harlow with 3 balls to spare.

Wells batted first and made an impressive 258 all out with opener William Rogers making a century. Sunni Ali, Fas Javed and Paddy Matthews look the pick of the bowlers and they survived the worst of the onslaught that ruined several bowling figures for the day.

Sunni 3-38 (7.4), Paddy 2-29 (8), Jas Faved 2-22 (7), Harris Hamid 1-30 (2), Joe Radford 0-45 (7) and Tyler Dobson 1-80 (8)

The highlights of a superb and successful run chase were half centuries from Shanmuga Priyan (57) and skipper Rizwan (50). Sunni made 29 and Simon Baulcomb 27 but 8 wickets down in the final over it was Paddy Matthews who struck the swimming runs for a wonderful win.

The only disappointing result of the day was on Spicers where Jack Sykes much changed 4th XI lost ground in their promotion challenge sliding to a 5 wicket defeat against Brentwood. It must be a constant cause for frustration never being able to select a settled side and losing players after cry offs elsewhere. 

A lost toss meant batting first on a worn strip and the side were indebted to 31 from Dip Basnet and Matt Fisk 21 not out as they struggled to 126 all out.

A wholehearted and committed effort in the field took the game to the final 4 overs but Harlow were only able to capture 5 wickets. Ronnie Fuller took 2-27, Evie Matthews bowled an excellent tight spell and Dave Whellams produced an accurate spell going for just 10 in 8 overs but it wasn’t quite enough.

Ronnie 2-27 (8), Dave Whellams 1-10 (8), Ali Zahid 1-30 )8), Evie Matthews 0-18 (6.5), Matt Fisk 1-37 (6)

A pretty good weekend for the club and what’s more the sun shone. Not even tropical spiders could ruin this weekend!!!!

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