Cricket: Harlow CC teams battle the heat as they chase promotion

Cricket / Sun 14th Aug 2022 at 07:17am

IN the unrelenting heat of a title battle, during a summer of scorching sunshine and tropical conditions, there was always going to come a moment when the wheels would start to come off the Third XI title wagon. The question would be whether they had it in them to overcome periods of such adversary.

Today at Hutton, against a strong side sitting 4th in the league table, Rizwan’s side had several moments of extreme pressure. They overcame the situation and the opposition thanks to a magnificent team effort led by the outstanding Faisal Javed and Matt Fisk. More of this later but first to Clayhall Park and the First XI facing bottom of the table Redbridge.

The return of overs format cricket could not come soon enough for the First XI. The last time we were playing overs matches the 1’s were strong contenders for promotion. A combination of poor performances and slightly unlucky draws had seen them tumble down the standings and looking over their shoulders at the spectre of a bottom half finish with the disastrous consequences of Div 4 cricket.

Twenty seven overs of cricket later and things looked much rosier for Jake and his side. Quite possibly this could be the shortest game of league cricket ever played by our First XI. Redbridge clearly had availability issues that saw their scorer and club chairman drafted in late on but batting first a mixture of fine Harlow bowling and curious bat swinging from the home side saw a clatter of wickets.

Sarfaraz Ahmed hadn’t even arrived before five wickets had fallen. A sixth went  down as he was getting his boots on. Jake Messenger started the rout taking a wicket with his second ball and rapidly adding two more. Abi Farooq executed a fine direct hit run out and Joe Riddell bowled another as Redbridge struggled to 16-5. 

On a challenging wicket that saw significant turn and inconsistent bounce the Harlow attack made full use of the facilities. Abi Farooq replaced a tired Joe Riddell (who had himself turned in a superb spell of 6 overs 2-7) and claimed two wickets of his own. Sarfaraz snared another and it was left to Paddy Matthews to close the innings with his second ball.

After all the carnage 49 all out was a pretty incredible outcome of 21.2 overs.

Messenger 3-20 (8), Riddell 2-7 (6), Farooq 2-8 (4), Sarfaraz 1-7 (3) and Matthews 1-4 (0.2)

The Harlow reply rather endorsed the gulf between the two sides on the day. Ben Yeats and Chris Whitworth made embarrassingly easy work knocking off the 50 runs required in 5.2 overs with 44 of the runs coming in boundaries. Around the mid- point of the innings, Yeats rocked back to a lifting delivery and dispatched it over mid wicket to bring up 1,000 league runs for the season. The pair did exactly what was required to clinch the 10 wicket win and surely Division 3 cricket next season. If only this had happened at Rainham!

Harry Burton and his 2nd XI played host to South Woodford at Marigolds. Working in an information void on this one (without a scorebook to be seen!) but the visitors made 176 all out. Harlow chased down the runs with Abdul Munim scoring a second consecutive century, a fabulous achievement, but the remainder of the details is currently a cricketing mystery.

So, back to the Third XI and their crucial fight back win at Hutton. Not one fight back mind you, this was two of them and very big ones at that.

Batting first Harlow were in all sorts of trouble losing the in form Dip Basnet, Atif Mustehsan and Jon Allen cheaply. Skipper Riz (48) and the veteran Simon Baulcomb (23) started the repost but it was an innings saving partnership between Fas Javed (45) and Matt Fisk (55) that turned the tables. Sunni (36) and Aju (21*) added valuable late order runs as we posted a superb 271-9 in 45 overs.

Emergency number one resolved but mid way through the Hutton reply Harlow were in the midst of another with the home side 161-1. It was the spin and bounce of Matt Fisk that removed the set batsmen but Harlow were still second favourites despite a tight spell of economical bowling from Tyler Dobson. Riz threw the ball to Fas and the off spinner produced a performance of a lifetime. In eight glorious overs Fas changed the game and maybe the outcome of the title taking 6-30, the best bowling figures in adult cricket this summer at the club.

Fas claimed the final wicket with the last ball of the match as Hutton posted 246 all out. Harlow had taken 9-85 to turn the game around in stunning style. With Upminster also winning Harlow retain their 19 point lead. Two fixtures to come in August before the two title contenders meet on the final day of the season. Lets keep our fingers crossed the 3’s can go into that game with the lead retained at its current level.

Fas 6-30 (8), Fisk 3-53 (9), Aju 1-32 (8) and Tyler 0-37 (9)

The only defeat on the day was on Spicers where a young 4th XI were comfortably beaten by West Essex 3rd XI. Batting first Eliot Koopowitz (27) and Oliver Allen (19) got us off to a decent start before wickets fell. Mark Quant again hit another half century before he fell for exactly 50. Teddy Lewis batted superbly on a difficult surface to accumulate a well made 24 (an adult career best –  you can’t ask for anymore than that). Nevertheless 160 all out didn’t look enough and so it proved.

Oliver Allen and Ronnie Fuller claimed two wickets apiece but West Essex won by 6 wickets leaving the 4s facing a real relegation dogfight now.

A fine weekend of cricket and results for the club topped off by the 4th XI hosting evening – all of which have been a major success this season. Well done to all involved.

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