Cricket: Harlow CC 1st X1 maintain excellent form

Cricket / Sun 12th Jun 2022 am30 11:59am

THE opening week of the ‘Time’ matches saw mixed results for Harlow CC’s sides this Saturday in the Hamro Foundation Essex Senior League.

The First XI maintained their excellent form defeating Ardleigh Green by six wickets on the back of a very good effort from the bowling unit. The visitors won the toss and elected to bat which suited Jake and his side just fine. The attacking intent from Harlow was clear with left arm spinner, Sarfaraz Ahmed, taking the new ball complemented by teenager Abi Farooq’s pace from the Old Town End.

It was Abi who struck first, finding the outside edge of young opener Marion’s bat for a duck. Paul Hurworth is always a dangerous customer and he was playing with usual aggression, racing to 23, before he became Sarfaraz Ahmed’s first victim of the day after playing on trying to cut. The mercurial twirler soon grabbed a second also bowled and the tone was pretty much set for the day with Ardleigh struggling at 28-3.

Chris Cook and Tom Gentile steadied the visitors batting for a period until Sarfaraz bowled Gentile for 22. By this stage Abi Farooq had finished a very good spell of seam, unlucky not to take more than his solitary wicket, and Chris Whitworth took over and got into the wicket taking business with his off spin.

The stubborn Chris Cook and handy middle order batter, Simon Jeffries, both got established although he run rate never rose much above 3 an over as Harlow exerted control. Towards the end of Sarfaraz 16 overs he enticed Cook into a rare ill-timed drive and Farooq took the catch at mid off, breaking the resistance. Wickets tumbled as skipper Messenger joined the fray as he took 3 quick victims in a very good spell of constant pressure.

At 140-9 the innings looked done and dusted but poor catching and fielding allowed the last pair to add 27 before an increasingly irritated Whitworth put a stop to the situation, bowling Thomas for 6, as Ardleigh Green closed on 167 all out.

Sarfaraz 4-44 (16), Messenger 3-29 (8), Whitworth 2-47 (11.2), Farooq 1-31 (7) and Matthews 0-13 (6).

Harlow openers, Yeats and Whitworth, looked to be making very light work of the run chase as the pair added 90. Chris Whitworth was in superb form, striking at a run a ball, with Yeats more circumspect but adding to his seasons tally in tidy fashion. It was a surprise when Jake Southam found a thin edge to remove Whitworth (for 53) and in the next over Yeats also perished (for 31) trying to hit over the top, off spinner Jeffries. A minor wobble became more concerning when Syed Hassan was needlessly run out for 1 as Harlow reached 98-3.

Thankfully the middle order of the home sides batting has been extremely resolute this term and Max Baulcomb (40*) and Tom Garner (35) took the match into its last embers before the latter went for the glory shot and holed out facing paceman Thomas. Nevertheless, minutes later the target was achieved with around 15 overs to spare.

A lot of what Harlow did today was very good. Huge credit to all the bowlers who each did well. Yet there is room for clear improvement. The side is yet to hit fifth gear but today what they produced was more than enough against a side who will comfortably achieve a top 10 finish and one can’t really demand much more than that.

League Table Top 5

Springfield 140 Pts
Barking 139 Pts
Harlow 128 Pts
Newham 107 Pts
Ardleigh Green 95 Pts

Harlow remain third in the table behind fellow victors on the day Springfield and Barking. Newham in 4th could only draw so we are one of 3 sides that have opened up a gap on the rest of the sides. Sadly, only 2 can get promoted so plenty more work still to be done.

The Second XI travelled to South Woodford and also picked up a comfortable win. Harry Burtons side batted first and despite the early loss of Arshad Muhammed second wicket pair John Perry (67)and Abdul Munim (59) both batted with application and no little skill to reach individual half centuries.

When that partnership was broken wickets fell too often for comfort and at 155-5 the innings was in the balance. Step up Joe Riddell and Jack Sykes. Both made very useful contributions in excess of 30 – Jack at a run a ball (36) and Joe 31 off just 16 deliveries with the last ball of the innings despatched for a huge maximum over cow corner.

Harlow’s 241-6 was an above par score on a slow and challenging surface.

South Woodford’s reply set off an express pace with the ball flying to all parts as the rate neared 10 an over in the early stages. The key turning point was a magnificent catch by Farhad Hikmatshah, who made 30 yards to dive and take an outstanding grab. It changed the course of the innings.

Jake Hikmatshah grabbed a brace of wickets and Jack Sykes once again found willing victims to his flighted deliveries taking another 4 wicket haul. Joe Riddell returned with pace to take all four remaining wickets as he proved too much for the home sides tail enders.

Winning margin of around 70 runs. Apologies no bowling figures available yet (Harry!!!).

The Third XI hosted Hutton on Spicers. Rizwan’s side maintained their title challenge with a very good win achieved by a good all round performance and a special partnership towards the end between Dip Basnet and Sunni Ali.

However, back to earlier in the day, and Riz put Hutton into bat first and Tyler Dobson set the tone opening up with a wicket maiden as he dismissed the listing skipper, Verma, for nought. Harlow bowled well but couldn’t prevent Mudasir Nazir making 78. Syed Ahsen Ali took 3 wickets and Harlow would have been satisfied to restrict Hutton to 208-8 in their 50 overs.

Syed Ali 3-42 (14), Whelhams 1-14 (5), Dobson 1-18 (5), Sunni Ali 1-39 (11), Fisk 1-51 (9)Oliver Allen 0-31 (6)

It was anyones game as Harlow lost their top 4 batsmen without a major score between them but a good partnership between Dip Basnet and Oliver Allen kept the score going in the right direction before the latter fell for a well made 27. Sunni Ali then joined Dip at the crease and together they took the side to victory.

As it happens earlier this week I prepared an article on the excellence of all rounder Sunni. His form has been outstanding this season, and if anything, he reached new heights this weekend with a brilliant display of cultured stroke play that led Harlow home for the win with his contribution 81 not out. Great stuff again guys!

The Fourth XI lost their mid table battle at West Essex. You are entitled to think you’ve almost got the job done with the opposition 9 down but alas last man Kumar had other ideas and hammered a fine 55 damaging runs that took the home side to an imposing 240-9.

Earlier Ibtisam Baig and skipper Nathan McCarthy had both taken 3 wickets each and George Jessey again bowled well for his brace of wickets.

McCarthy 3-21 (4), Ibtisam 3-67 (10), G.Jessey 2-26 (6), L. Riddell 1-21 (6)

Ryan and Alfie Jessey got us off to a decent start with 47 and 15 respectively. Last weeks centurion Ronnie Fuller added 32 but the innings subsided thereafter. Only young 13 year old George Jessey offered prolonged resistance. Despite being struck in the ribs by a delivery George was straight back in line next ball tucking off his hip as he made a very well put together innings of 35. Unfortunately we could only muster 155 all out.

The good news was the Fifth XI got a side out and played against top of the table Hockerill 2’s. The less important headline was they were defeated but only after debutant Zain Ullah Hamoard gave them a shock, taking 4 quick wickets, with a superb spell backed up by the wicket taking Irfan Shoukat. Hockerill recovered well to post 204 all out but a good effort from our young side.

Hamoard 4-17 (8), Moiz 2-34 (4.3), Mathew 1-16 (6), Lewis 1-23 (3), Shoukat 2-51 (8)

Harlow’s mixture of youth and experience couldn’t replicate their fine bowling performance with the bat and despite 21 from Sam Flewers we totalled 57 all out but some good match experience gained by all the younger members of the side.

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