Saturday, May 25, 2024

Indoor Cricket: Season ends with Belhus winning title

BELHUS Cricket Club’s young stars clinched the South Essex District U16 west division title at Grays School with a narrow two-run victory over Stanford le Hope at Grays School on Friday evening. The match, which turned out to be a championship decider, started fairly tamely but Stanford made an early breakthrough when Elliott Playle was run out without scoring. But Jake Wolfe joined opener Jack Martin-Hussey at the crease and these two took the score to 41. The team from East Thurrock refused to allow the match to slip from their grasp. They claimed two wickets without any addition to the total as Martin-Hussey became a second run out statistic for 14 runs and Mathew Lewis was stumped by Ethan Thomas for nought. Then Sam Hall offered a sharp return catch to the excellent James Pearn for just a single. Belhus hopes might have been hanging by a thread, but Wolfe attempted to blow the Stanford house down with a measured 48 not out as the team clawed their way to an attainable 77 runs for the loss of five wickets at the close.

The Hope reply started slowly as they were restricted to just 17 runs from the first five overs of pace, delivered by Martin-Hussey, Lewis and Playle. But the Stanford team did not lose any wickets in the opening exchanges, until the third change bowler, Zak Wilson, was introduced to the attack. Wilson had earlier shown his prowess with the bat by striking two boundaries in a fine knock of ten runs, but could he deliver with the ball? The answer was a resounding ‘yes’ as he caught and bowled Stanford opener Tom Willats for eight runs and then followed up by claiming the wicket of Thomas, courtesy of a Playle catch, after 19 further runs had been added to the scoreboard. When Wilson achieved a subsequent run out with a direct throw from cover point, everything looked rosy for the Belhus team.

Jack Carter, though, had other ideas. The Stanford batsman plundered his way to a fine unfeated innings of 28 runs as the consequent pressure on the Belhus bowlers began to show. Nine wides and four no balls were recorded and with a minimum two-run penalty for each, it became a costly business for the North Stifford based team. Stanford required 13 runs from the final over, bowled by Lewis. Eight runs were mustered and Stanford closed on 75-4. Belhus became champions but Stanford deserved much credit for coming so close in an enthralling match. For the record, the pick of the bowlers were Pearn and Willats (Stanford), 2-8 from three overs and 1-16 from two overs respectively. Martin-Hussey and Lewis of Belhus conceded just ten and fifteen runs from their three over spells, while their younger colleague Wilson picked up 2-13 from two overs.

The remaining fixture of the evening yielded an even closer finish, as Horndon on the Hill scampered their winning runs off the final ball of the match. Their opponents, Orsett “A”, had earlier posted 67 for the loss of five wickets, as Joe Mitchell hit a magnificent 41 not out. But Daniel Petts responded in kind for Horndon and he hit the winning runs from the final ball of the match with a frantic dive at the bowler’s end. Petts score was 33 not out to add to his three wickets for just eight runs earlier in the match. For Orsett “A”, Jack Plom picked up 2-14 as Horndon edged over the line, literally, with a score of 69 and four wickets down.

The final week of competition for the current season of indoor youth cricket at Grays School takes place on Friday (19th April) with two fixtures, Belhus “B” will play Orsett “B” at 6pm, while their respective “A” team counterparts will meet one hour later.

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