Cricket: Harlow work hard for victory at Leyton

Cricket / Sun 21st Aug 2022 at 07:43am

HARLOW’S premier side travelled to the historic Leyton County Ground to face league newcomers Neo CC. The venue was a former home of Essex CCC, with the county side last playing their in 1977. The beautiful old pavilion has seen better days but cast an imposing edifice across a parched outfield.

Having looked at a wicket that had clearly been heavily watered in the week but retaining hard dry sections at both ends on a length Jake decided, rightly, to insert the home side.

It was the skipper himself who struck twice early before Joe Riddell received reward for his own fine spell of seam bowling, moving the ball of the pitch, to take his own brace including the prolific Abdullah Noman. When Chris Whitworth saw his first ball clothed to Jake Messenger the home side were in deep trouble at 57-5.

Sadly, poor fielding and catching were to aid Neo in slipping off the hook and recover to post 220 all out off the last ball of their 50 overs. In truth, they should have barely been allowed to get much over half that total but chances were spurned and batsmen became set and difficult to dislodge.

Despite the efforts of the seam bowlers it was clear conditions were hugely favouring the spinners, with prodigious turn and bounce. Whitworth, Yeats and Safaraz (who produced a miserly spell conceding just 21 in 10 overs) all profited from the conditions along with the captains brace early on. Abi Farooq was the other wicket taker. Mention also for Ben Terrington on first team debut. He kept wicket well in challenging conditions and took a fine and much needed stumping at an important time. 

Riddell 2-24 (6), Whitworth 2-48 (10), Messenger 2-53 (10), Yeats 1-23 (7), Sarfaraz 1-21 (10), Farooq 1-25 (4) and Matthews 0-16 (3).

One suspects chasing 220 on a rabid ‘bunson burner’ of a track was not in Plan A for Harlow and there was a hint of tension at the break. Those doubts were slowly but surely eased by the batting of openers Ben Yeats and Chris Whitworth. The pair toyed with the fielding side making regular use of reverse sweeps and switch hits to force fielding changes that then allowed them to hit into the latest gap in the field. Whitworth was just starting to really expand his hitting when he fell last ball before the mid innings drinks for 68 that included three maximums. Fellow opener Yeats perished to a loose shot on 49 much to his disgust but any thoughts of a Harlow collapse were rapidly exercised by the recalled Syed Hassan who quickly got into his stride. Syed was to play his most fluent innings of the season, reaching an undefeated 51 just before the close as he and Abi Farooq (11 not out) saw Harlow to victory.

Harlow moved up to 5th in the 20 team league table and should now be safe from any lingering doubts about finishing 11th or worse and crashing into the new Division Four next season.

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