Harlow Cricket Club: Second X1 Review: Strong season for Amir’s side
Cricket / Wed 15th Nov 2023 at 06:13am
WELCOME to the fourth of the End of Season Reviews for the 2023 season with focus on the Second XI.
As in keeping with previous reviews from the campaign of last summer you’ll find further positive material as Amir Farooq led his team throughout their campaign in amongst the promotion challengers towards the higher reaches of the league table.
Form arguably peaked around late July with Harlow in a tremendous position to achieve a second consecutive promotion but ultimately their fourth placed finish was a more than worthy outcome and went way beyond merely consolidating their 2022 promotion to Second XI Division One.
As with every club in Essex rain was the only winner on Week 1 and to be honest most of Harlow’s side probably wished it had chucked it down at Hutton the week after when we were soundly beaten.
Any fears of a challenging season were dispelled by the brilliance of the batting at Colchester the following Saturday as Abdul Munim scored a majestic 137 with John Perry 52 and Arshad Muhammed 45 offering very helpful support. A total of 300-3 looked more than enough and so it proved with the skipper grabbing a 6 wicket haul for a win by a large margin.
Arguably the best win of the season followed at (later promoted) Billericay. In damp conditions our side fought and dragged their score up to 195 all out thanks to JP making 44 and Amir 37. A superb effort in the field enabled Harlow to defend the total for a 24 run win with Paddy Matthews the leading light with 3-39 but all contributed with the ball.
The side was on fire in June with two superb wins and two draws in time games that Harlow dominated with the opposition on both occasions hanging on for draws.
Buckhurst Hill were beaten in an excellent game of cricket thanks to Arshad making 89 and James Forde a half century whilst Muhammed Umar Raza took 4 wickets. The victory over subsequent champions Hornchurch was even more convincing as the batters again prospered to total 279-3 declared (Arshad 77, Zabi Hakimi 68*, JP 63* and Munim 56). Crucially, in the time format the bowlers also joined the party with all six used taking at least one wicket – Zabi the pick with 3-23.
Away at struggling Fives the Harlow batters cashed in on a good wicket and tight boundaries to smash 323 in their 50 overs (err boys declaration?). Fives lost early wickets and closed up shop for a draw that again left Harlow with the greater points from the match but possibly a missed opportunity.
A fine win at Old Parks with the skipper again leading from the front as he and Paddy took 7 wickets between them to bowl the opposition out for 224. A tough run chase was excellently negotiated thanks to half centuries for young James Mitchell and Max Baulcomb whilst the hugely in form John Perry continued his superb season of run scoring with 40.
Possibly the pivotal game of the season followed away at Hutton in a top of the table clash. The pace of Abubaker Rafiq, Jake Hikmatshah, Ben Seary and Waheed Azam had joined together to dismiss the home side for a very reachable 197. Alas, regular First XI player Connor Whetstone grabbed 4 wickets and despite a top score on the day of 37 from Asad Baig we fell short and to defeat.
Rain and another defeat to promotion challenging opposition (Billericay) left us falling just off the pace at the top of the table. Munim made 62 and Ronnie Fuller 37 but 197 wasn’t enough to beat the visitors to Marigolds despite James Mitchell spinning his way to 3 wickets.
August started with even more rain and another cancelled fixture before we lost badly to Loughton at Marigolds. Atif Mustehsen made a glorious 96 and Arshad 46 as we posted 240 batting first but somehow in the field fell apart to allow the visitors to achieve victory just 5 down and with 12 overs to spare.
A heroic effort with the ball wasn’t quite enough at Hornchurch as the eventual champions beat us by 1 wicket in a low scoring cliff hanger of a game. Gidea Park were beaten on Duckworth Lewis the following week thanks to the bowlers again hunting as a pack with across the board contributions and wickets with Abubaker the pick with 3 victims.
Before you knew it we had reached the final day of the season. Harlow playing for pride against Fives who needed to win to stand any chance of avoiding relegation. Harlow dominated the match from the moment Abubaker (4-26) and Ben Seary (3-19) took the new ball. Fives 137 all out was not likely to be much of a total and so it proved as Harlow raced to the win in just 19 overs with Arshad string a very attractive 70 not out.
A really top all round effort from the side. The experienced players produced on a regular basis to support the skipper who has to be one of the finest all round club cricketers at this level in the area. Plenty of younger players came through the side on route to the First XI as the Harlow route for young talent to the First team remains one of the most fluid in Essex. Very much a campaign all can be very proud of.
Leading Run Scorers
John Perry 519 runs (ave 51.90)
Abdul Munim 496 runs (ave 45.09)
Arshad Muhammed 473 runs (ave 33.79)
Leading Wicket Takers
Amir Farooq 27 wickets (eco 4.56)
Abubaker Rafiq 22 wickets (eco 4.41)
Paddy Matthews 16 wickets (eco 4.08)
Best Individual Innings
Abdul Munim 137 v Colchester (a)
Amir Farooq 6-52 v Colchester (a)
Ben Terrington 9 catches (wk)