Cricket: Harlow CC Third X1: Review of the season

Sport / Sat 21st Oct 2023 at 10:03am

IF anyone deserved a league trophy this season it was the Third XI. During an outstanding season they were able to overcome the loss of key players (usually to higher XI’s), injuries, some ropey umpiring and a fierce rival in Upminster.

As the games ticked off Rizwan and his side just kept winning game after game with their main competition matching them stride for stride but crucially with Harlow a handful of points to the good. On the last weekend in August Harlow knew that two wins in their final matches and they would magnificently retain their Third XI Premier Division title.

Cruelly, the weather Gods weren’t of a mind to oblige. Rain wiped out Harlow’s fixture whilst Upminster somehow managed to complete their game and in doing so struck a fatal blow to Harlow’s trophy hunt. Nevertheless, this was a fabulous effort from Rizwan and his ever-changing side. It didn’t actually matter who was selected – they found a way to win week after week. They deserve our most heartfelt plaudits. 

The entire league suffered a washout on match day 1 but the following week Harlow struck an early blow defeating Upminster by 5 wickets thanks primarily to Muhammed Umar Raza (4-27) and skipper Riz with 47 off the bat. 

The excellent start to the season continued with a bowling led victory against Wanstead with Sunny Ali and Ronnie Fuller doing the damage before 14 year old talent James Mitchell had a game to remember with a 87* and 4 wickets to help us to another 20 points against Woodford Wells. Ronnie Fuller and Dip Basnett both made half centuries as the batting purred as well as the bowling.

The wins kept piling up in June as Frenford were skittled for 125 thanks to three wickets each for Tyler Dobson, Jake Hikmatshah and James Mitchell. Harold Wood couldn’t even reach three figures as Bilal Javed and Sunny ran riot as Harlow extended their led at the top of the table.

Match day 7 saw the side slip up for the first time in defeat to Hutton. Chasing 226 to win despite another 4 wickets for Bilal Harlow fell 17 runs short with Simon Baulcomb top scoring with a half century.

A bizarre match followed as Dip (80) and Sunny (62) helped us set 259 as a target for Ilford who chose not to bother chasing it ending on 180 odd for just the loss of 3 wickets.

A return to winning ways was required and looked a certainty after Shenfield were knocked over for 140 thanks to Waheed Azam and George Jessey grabbing three victims each. However, an appalling start with the bat left us six down with almost nothing on the board until a brilliant match winning stand between Waheed (59*) and Sunny (47*).

Some serious frustration followed against Chelmsford as Asad Baig hit a superb 113 backed up by Baulks making a handy 48. In reply, Chelmsford blocked out 9 wickets down to force a draw despite Tyler taking 3-25 in 10 quality overs.

A top of the table battle followed as Upminster came to town and one which Harlow dominated from start to finish but again they had to settle for a winning draw. Arshad, Sunny and Riz all made half centuries as Dip added 40 to post a challenging total that proved too steep for Upminster who blocked their way to a draw 7 wickets down despite 4-29 from Jake Hikmatshah.

An unbelievably good batting effort saw a remarkable win at Woodford Wells as Harlow chased down 265 to win. Tyler had grabbed 3 wickets but nothing had stopped Wells racking up a big total that shredded the nerves of Riz and his team as they clawed their way to the win 9 wickets down. The experience of Essex Over 60’s star Baulks with 78 runs and Sunny (49) did most of the damage but it needed the best 15 not out ever seen from Abid Shinwari to seize a stunning win.

Rain washed out a home game against Frenford who Harlow would have been very confident of overcoming before arguably the only poor performance of the season as we crashed to defeat at a Harold Wood side we had dominated 2 months earlier despite an outstanding 55 from 13 year opener, Bill Clark, on his Third XI debut.

With the league title on a knife-edge Harlow brilliantly bounced back to avenge their previous defeat to Hutton. Bilal Javed took 4 wickets to restrict their hosts to just 102 which was chased for the loss of just 2 wickets.

On the penultimate day of the season Harlow looked to be romping to victory at Ilford who they had 80-6 with Tyler leading the way having taken 3-17 in 7 overs before the mother of all thunderstorms washed the game out completely. Rizwan’s heart sank that evening upon the discovery that Upminster had concluded their game with a win to leapfrog Harlow into pole position for the title with just one game left.

Somehow Harlow defended 151 made batting first against Shenfield , all the more amazing as 
the opposition opener carried his bat with 70 odd not out. All the bowlers were superb led by Fas Javed who took 4 wickets as Harlow won by 5 runs to keep Upminster honest but sadly they also won to claim the league title by a mere 8 points.

Led superbly by Riz the side performed with honour and credit throughout. The experienced players led from the front whilst the highly promising youngsters all took their chance at the higher level to show their potential. We collectively doff our caps to all those who wore Third XI colours this season. A fabulous effort from you all.

Top Run Scorers
Rizwan Qayyum 344 runs (ave 34.40)
Sunny Ali 319 runs (ave 45.57)
Dip Basnet 315 runs (ave 39.38)

Leading Wicket Takers
Tyler Dobson 20 wickets (eco 3.07)
Bilal Javed 20 wickets (eco 3.52)
Sunny Ali 20 wickets (eco 3.68)

Best Individual Innings
Asad Baig 113 v Chelmsford

Best Individual Bowling
Faisal Javed 4-20 v Shenfield

Leading Catches
Rizwan 12 catches (6 as keeper)

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