Cricket: Run fest at Marigolds as Harlow beat Walthamstow

Cricket / Sun 28th Aug 2022 at 07:13am

AFTER almost eight pulsating hours of cricket, virtually 600 runs and 17 wickets the large crowd at Marigolds on Saturday could not possibly claim not to have been given a wonderful afternoons cricketing entertainment. It might not always have been of the highest quality but it was certainly a game one could not take ones eyes off and within had some outstanding performances.

The match ebbed, flowed and rolled like a cross Channel ferry in choppy seas as Harlow and visitors Walthamstow traded blows on a sunlight afternoon.

Harlow skipper, Jake Messenger, won the toss and asked the visitors to bat first. He may have been regretting that decision as his seam attack struggled to find their line and length with frequent loose deliveries and an appalling number of wides. Sri Lankan opener, Kevin Anthony, was profiting from the feast on offer although his partner Hamza Shakeel was struggling to find any form and it was probably almost a relief when Joe Riddell (the pick of the Harlow seamers) found his outside edge to keeper Garner for just 1 from 29 balls.

That brought overseas star Dammika de vas Gunawardena to the crease and with fellow countryman Anthony they set about the bowling playing some stylish cricket. At 112-1 in the twentieth over things were looking bleak for the home side but spinners Jake Messenger and Sarfaraz Ahmed changed everything.

Messenger broke the partnership bowling Anthony for 56 and shortly afterwards Sarfaraz removed Gunawardena for 32. Harlow then began to dominate as the visitors struggled against the spin duo. Wickets tumbled as the runs section of the scoreboard stalled. When Sarfaraz claimed his fifth wicket, thanks to a superb boundary catch by Paddy Matthews, the innings looked virtually over at 164-8 until the match took another turn.

Tail enders Chris Smart and Asif Bala batted superbly, making a mockery of their position in the batting order. The pair dominated the increasingly wayward Harlow bowling as they piled the runs on late in the innings. Smart was bowled by Matthews in the dying embers of the innings for 52 but there was still time for Bala to inflict more misery on the home side as they added 31 in the last 2 overs.

Walthamstow would have been a delighted side to have recovered to a potentially match winning total of 297-9 in 50 overs.

Sarfaraz Ahmed 5-47 (10), Jake Messenger 2-49 (10), Joe Riddell 1-36 (7), Paddy Matthews 1-52 (8), Ben Yeats 0-17 (4) and Chris Whitworth 0-46 (6)

Any chance of a Harlow victory rested on a good start by their leading batters, Ben Yeats and Chris Whitworth. The pair did not disappoint as both tore into the bowling playing some superb attacking shots in the opening powerplay. Whitworth raced to 31 from just 18 balls before he was worked by Thiru but Yeats and Syed Hassan continued the plunder to make 75 in the opening 10 overs.

Both men looked in fine form but Yeats in particular was playing some superb controlled attacking shots of the highest order. Such was his form and confidence it was major surprise when Gunawardena beat his bat with one that kept a little low to dismiss Harlow leading run scorer for 61. This proved the catalyst for a Walthamstow fight back as Baulcomb and Garner both perished for ducks looking to advance the scoring. When spinner Shaikh bowled Syed for 55 with the score on 173-5 the visitors had wrestled back the advantage.

Harlow hit back again through Gul Hassan and Abi Farooq. Hassan was batting superbly with Farooq playing a perfect supportive innings. With victory closing in Hassan picked out deep mid wicket to depart for a well made 63 (253-6). A minor setback became a full wobble when Messenger and Matthews lost heir wickets cheaply. The smart money was now on the visitors again with the score on 258-8.

It needed cool heads and good technique to blunt the bowling attack and release the pressure. Abi Farooq played with a maturity well beyond his 18 years, He farmed the strike to protect Joe Riddell at the other end and was resolute in defence but also seizing upon any boundary opportunities offered. With Riddell also striking a couple of fine fours the winning target continued to come closer and closer.

Walthamstow through everything at the pair but they were magnificently robust taking any scoring opportunities be they quick singles or finding a boundary. Farooq brought up his first half century of the season and then fittingly hit the winnings runs with 2.4 overs to spare.

The largest Harlow run chase of the season and the biggest total made by the First XI to win batting second in at least six years. A fabulous days entertainment for a crowd that included many former stars of the club. They were royally rewarded with a fascinating game of cricket. Credit to both teams and the officials who were also top draw with a final word for groundsman Cliff Clark who provided a superb surface despite the heavy midweek rain.

Six hundred runs, 17 wickets and 20 points for Harlow. The perfect Saturday!

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