Harlow Town enjoyed an excellent weekend with all four teams either winning or drawing at least once and there was plenty of cause for celebration.
Harlow Town CC 177-1 beat
Epping CC 174 by 9 wickets
Epping won the toss and elected to bat on a surface that looks much improved from previous years against the league leaders.
Epping started brightly, but a couple of wickets slowed the pace resulting in the need for some consolidation from the home team.
This they achieved with a mixture of good shot selection and well judged running to reach drinks at 103 for three from 25 overs clearly looking to push on to reach a competitive target against the in-form Town.
The partnership of Lycett (26) and Bagga (52) was broken soon after the break when Bagga tried to force the pace with the impressive Ronnie Yates picking up the first of his four wickets to an easy catch at slip from Neil Galdwin.
Two balls later the same combination accounted for Patel to put Epping on the back foot once more. A quickfire 23 from Mithani briefly threatened but it was left to a final-wicket partnership of 28 to elevate Epping to 174 which looked very short of a competitive total.
The Town struggled a number of times last year chasing down small targets so 174 at least presented a bit of a challenge to keep the team focused and after losing Shiraz Ali (11) with the score on 25 another testing chase looked possible.
Pat Yates (78 not out) and Matthew Hurley (70 not out), who was promoted from the 2s this week as cover for Joe Holland who unfortunately had to visit an unwell family member at short notice (we wish them well), put paid to any suggestion of lack of focus for the Town as they set about demolishing the Epping attack.
The partnership was almost chanceless and the end of the game came far too quickly for Epping who found themselves beaten by nine wickets with 18 overs still to bowl.
This was a resounding victory for the Town who remain top with a game in hand, but have no game again next week which could see them lose top spot should Stanford-le-Hope win again, although the Town will then have two games in hand.
The Town T20 Dukes Cup team took on Premier Division South Woodford at Phoneix Park on Friday, knowing that a win would see them through to the next round, something that looked very unlikely when drawn against two Division 1 sides and South Woodford.
The senior opponents were in confident mood having already won their two opening matches. A 6:30pm start would mean a late and possibly dark finish, so on winning the toss SW not surprisingly opted to bat under clear skies on a dry and good looking wicket.
The SW innings was built around a belligerent 63 from opener Ashley Leat and he threatened to post a total way beyond the Town. The Town chipped away at the other end regularly and it became more apparent that Leat was the key to the innings.
Shaun Alderson (3-26) in the middle of his four overs, bowled an incredible spell of 10 balls for no runs taking three wickets, including the dangerous Leat who was sharply stumped by Pat Yates.
The rest of the innings was kept under control by the Town and a final total of 139 for seven from 20 overs looked good but could have been much higher. Daniel Farmer picked up two wickets and Hass Ali one.
The Town reply started with the light already fading, but they set about the task with a good deal of confidence based on recent form and performances. Pat Yates raced down the wicket a few times swinging and missing along the way, before pushing one to mid-on to be easily run out without scoring.
Shiraz Ali (11) briefly looked in control until missing a straight one, Matt Hurley (11) and Bilal Ali (3) came and went before Neil Gladwin (30), nursing a hamstring injury, was joined at the crease by skipper Ashley Alderson.
The two consolidated and then began to take the attack to the bowlers before Neil was dismissed with the score on 78, still well short of victory. Scott Alderson followed soon after, before a brief rally between Shaun Alderson and Ashley took the score to 93.
Dan Farmer came to the crease and worked the ball around well to basically give as much of the strike as possible to the skipper. With 45 needed off the last four overs things looked bleak for the Town, but with Ashley (56 not out) still there the win was still possible.
Ashley continued to dominate the bowling lofting balls 25 meters past the 65 meter boundary a number of times to take the game down to three needed off the final over. A single and a wide left one to win off four balls with Dan Farmer on strike.
He wafted at one and then stuck the next firmly to a short mid-on fielder, who pulled of a stunning piece of fielding to run him out at the non-strikers end which at least got Ashley back on strike.
Ashley produced the finish the good-sized crowd required cutting the fifth ball of the over for four to complete a memorable victory against a very strong opposition.
A much changed T20 Dukes Cup side took on Div Woodford Wells on Sunday afternoon at the picturesque Wells ground. In front of another good crowd the team did themselves proud once again taking the game to a senior side in this competition.
Wells batted first, and with one side of the boundary no more than 35 meters away and a lightning fast outfield the game was always going to be a high scoring one.
The Wells opener Rishabah Shah was outstanding and brutal smashing 117 off just 51 balls to set Wells on the way to a mammoth total, but with his dismissal the rate dropped and Town regained some form of control although with the impossible to defend boundary on one side, control was not exactly easy to maintain.
Wells finished on an impressive 200 for three from their 20 overs and the Town would need to bat exceptionally well to chase that down. Tom Price set the tone launching the biggest six of the day off the last ball of the first over and the Town chase was underway.
The required run rate was maintained for most of the innings, helped by Tom Price (42), Matt Hurley (25) and Charlie Coleman (38). A flurry of wickets to Peter McDermott (five for 32) stalled the innings until Dan Farmer (22) and Shaun Alderson (36 not out) got the team into a winning position requiring 10 off the final over from McDermott.
Dan Farmer swished at a wide one and was well caught behind, and was followed next ball by Jask Elston who was cleaned up be a lively paced McDermott.
Hassan Ali took a cheeky bye to the keeper to get Shaun on strike for a final push. Shaun launched the next ball for four and it was very much game on, but another dot ball put the game in the balance leaving the Town needing four off the last ball to tie the score.
Another good delivery from McDermott could only be squeezed away for a single leaving theTown agonisingly close to an unlikely win. 197 for eight was a superb effort and the boys certainly scared another senior opponent.
The loss did not affect the T20 league table and the Town progress to the next round as group winners.
Towns 2’s impressive start to the season continued as they clinically dismantled Epping. Skipper Gladwin lost the toss but surprisingly Epping choose to bat, obviously looking at the Phoenix Park wicket which is starting to resemble a road and thinking of scoring more than 250.
They were soon ruing that decision as Jack Elston (2-20) took a wicket from the third ball of the game and Epping were soon struggling at 19 for two. Miah (46) and Javad (37) steadied the ship for a time, before Tim Poulter removed the latter which proved the starting point of the innings crashing down.
With the introduction of Town's in-form slow bowlers Simon Rowell (2-10) and Graeme Eversden (4-10) the middle and lower order were destroyed as Epping lost eight wickets for 40 runs to finish on 125 all out from 42 overs.
The total looked massively short of a competitive one and so it proved as Bilal Ali (78 not out) and Dan Baldwin (40) got the innings off to a flyer. The loss of Baldwin gave Epping something to cheer about but the game was over inside 17 overs and the Town now sit top of the league, although possibly only for a week as they have no game next Saturday.
The 3rd XI travelled to Belhus 3s in another tough looking fixture. Belhus were in confident mood and were boasting "Can’t see anything other than a win for Belhus or a draw," until quite late in the game.
Belhus batted first making a below par score of 167 all out from 49 overs. Seven players made double figures but none pushed on to make the all-important big score.
Tristan Reece (2-26), Scott Baker (3-36), Tyronne Mazarura (2-17) and Daniel Gleeson (3-32) were the wicket-takers as Town bowled with good discipline and control.
Jake Messenger struck an elegant 28 up front while Vic Goddard (59) anchored the innings. Wickets fell regularly and when experienced pair Kevin Tilleard (4) and Nick Teale (7) were dismissed cheaply it looked as if Belhus had called it right.
First Daniel Gleeson (18) and then Tristan Reece (9), in a crucial eighth-wicket partnership of 26 with Scott Baker (16 not out), almost saw the Town home.
It took a final, albeit short, solid defensive display from number 11 Paul Morrell to support the fluent Baker in the quest for victory. This was achieved with Baker deservedly hitting the winning runs to maintain the 3rd XI’s impressive start to the season.
The 4s hosted Belhus 4s and set about establishing a dominant position having been asked to bat first.
A poor start saw skipper Aaron Simpson depart for five, but that was about as good as it got for Belhus.
Lee Richardson (93) alongside son George (26) quickly got the innings going, with Max Poulter (51 not out) and Paul Smith (56) also batting well to allow the skipper to declare on 244 for five from 51 overs.
The Belhus reply was at best stubborn, at worst dour, as they made no impression on the target. The Town ended the match with everyone around the bat in an attempt to winkle out the tail.
Belhus finished on 127 for eight from 44 overs. Aaron Simpson (3-38), Dan Dewey (1-4), George Richardson (2-25) and Paul Smith (2-27) threw everything at Belhus including the kitchen sink, but credit to Belhus for holding out and resisting the HTCC onslaught.
© Cricket World 2014