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by Stuart Alderson Wednesday 13 August 2014
Harlow Town 1st XI, 2nd XI and 3rd XI remain well in contention to earn promotion this season after two wins and a defeat this weekend.
HTCC 1st XI 75-6 beatOakfield Parkonians 1st XI 72 all out by four wicketsTown arrived to find a pitch which looked full of demons, so the usual relaxed toss of the coin became a frantic must-win for both teams. To the delight of his team-mates, skipper Ashley Alderson called correctly and immediately offered the hosts first use of the track.The League panel umpires were also concerned with the state of the pitch and having umpired there previously this season were just as nervous as the players as to how the track would behave. As it turned out the game as a contest was heavily influenced by the pitch, so much so that the umpires felt the need to report the pitch after the match.Irrespective of the poor condition of the pitch the Town put in one of their best bowling and fielding performances of the season. Two direct hit run outs and six catches were safely taken as the Town tore through the hosts batting line-up.
OP’s overseas Jibran Azam who is a class above most others in this division managed to top score with 35 but even he was unable to resist the buzzing Town.
Daniel Farmer (2-23), Mohamed Hassan Ali (2-25), Ramya Upahdyay (2-4) and Shaun Alderson (2-10) dismissed the hosts inside 25 overs for 72, which to be fair was a decent effort on that track. The Town would certainly not have wanted to have been chasing many more. Pat Yates (8) and Shiraz Ali (17) settled the nerves before a flurry of wickets caused the Town a few nervous moments. The pitch was summed up nicely when Joe Holland (8) stretched forward to play a good length ball which then reared up and smacked him noisily on the helmet.
Runs were never easy to come by, as OP’s did all they could to run through the Town line-up with Paran Kalley (4-30) dismissing Ali, Holland, Upahdyay and Price, before a stoic 26 not out from Neil Gladwin settled the Town nerves.
Skipper Ashley Alderson hysterically left a ball which pitched on off and hit off for no apparent reason to be bowled for five with three runs to win before Town eased home by four wickets with 35 overs to spare. The Town remain in the top two with four games to go and have their promotion hopes firmly in their own hands.HTCC 2nd XI 144 for 3 beat Oakfield Parkonians 143 all out by seven wicketsThe 2nd XI’s great season continued with a comprehensive victory against the usually difficult to beat Oakfield Parkonians CC.Town won a vital toss and put the visitors in on a damp wicket. Conor Fussell opened the bowling and was unplayable as he extracted vicious lift and bounce troubling all the batters. The visitor found themselves three for two and then 65 for five with only Shah (38) showing any resistance. The middle order began to look more settled as the pitch dried out but Town found a way to break the partnership between Kalley (28) and Handa (29) as Charlie Coleman dismissed both in quick succession.
The innings ended in the 52nd over as Tim Poulter mopped up the tail to see the visitors all out for a low total of 143. Charlie Coleman, Tim Poulter and Conor Fussell all picked up two wickets each. In reply Town, in front of the cheering 1st XI who had wrapped up a win earlier, started cautiously with Daniel Baldwin and Jason Gladwin putting on 40 for the first wicket before Baldwin played on.Bilal Ali (39 not out) batted sensibly and with Gladwin dominated the bowling to take Town to the brink of victory before Gladwin was caught for 55 which included his first and second sixes for the club.
The loss of Coleman briefly delayed the inevitable and Town completed a dominating performance in the 28th over for the loss of three wickets.
The 2nd XI sit top of the league by one point from Old Southendians & Southchurch CC but with a game in hand, and more importantly 60 points clear of third-placed Horndon-on-th-Hill.South Woodford 4th XI 184 beat HTCC 3rd XI 109 all out by 75 runs
The 3rd XI need to forget this game quickly as a sub-standard all-round display left them nursing a heavy defeat at the hands of the in-form South Woodford.
Winning the toss on a square looking in serious need of some TLC, the Town were confident of restricting the hosts to a reasonable target. However at 38 for nought from three overs this looked very unlikely as Town fed the hosts a number of buffet balls which were consumed greedily by the ravenous openers.
However, a no-ball call for height off the first delivery which was smacked straight to mid-on where it was pouched may have taken the game a different route.
Town clawed their way back into the game and while they had moments of control the home batters were able to cut loose with regularity as Town continued to feed them.
Paul Morrell, mainly due to his excellent second spell, picked up four for 49, Johan Cloete two for 27 with further wickets for Alfie Elston, Kevin Tilleard and Vic Goddard.
Daniel Dewey was the only bowler to maintain any real control bowling an excellent spell of nine overs for 10 runs. A last-wicket partnership of 23 hurt the Townies who let the hosts off the hook a number of times during the innings and they finished on 184 all out from 48 overs.
With a very gettable total on a quick outfield especially with a strong batting line up, at least on paper the Town sat down for tea reasonably happy.
Town started slowly and the hosts' bowling line up looking menacing. Bounce and movement off the now crusty top pitch with a soft bottom, caused the Town line-up many problems, although Jake Messenger saw off the openers with a confident 19.
Cloete (8), Tilleard (4) and Elston (3) came and went a bit too quickly for the stand-in skipper's liking and when Vic Goddard managed to engineer himself a run out in bizarre fashion for 14 the skipper was positively miserable.
Brian Lall (33) gave the Town some hope, but it was all too late as the Town crumbled to a very poor 109 all out from just 36 overs to leave their promotion hopes in the balance.
Leaders Loughton were also soundly beaten picking up four points less (0) than the Town, news of which was the only point in a long day where the stand-in skipper cracked a smile, albeit a painful looking one.
The 3rd XI remain in the top two and are now 11 points behind Loughton with a game in hand.
HTCC 4th XI 155-4 drew with Epping 3rd XI 255-6 declared
Town won the toss and elected to bat on a damp wicket. Town missed what proved to be a very costly dropped catch in the slips off George Richardson’s first over, as opener Mohammed Zubair went on to score 110.
Epping went on to score 255 for six, declaring after 47 overs. Pick of the bowlers were George Richardson (3-42) and Sreerag Radhakrishnan (3-49).
With only around 40 overs in which to get the large total, Town needed a brisk start, but lost a wicket in the second over to put them immediately on the back foot.
Aaron Simpson (43) and Sreerag Radhakrishnan (36) settled things down whilst George Richardson (42) again batted with maturity beyond his years in an excellent innings.
With overs running out Town settled for the draw, picking up a couple of batting points along the way to a total of 155 for four from 41 overs.
© Cricket World 2014