The Saracens Hertfordshire Cricket League returned with a bang this week – with the Dacorum clubs getting back to action for the start of the 2015 campaign.
> Hemel Town
Hemel Town I opened the 2015 Herts League season in disappointing fashion as they suffered a crushing defeat at Sawbridgeworth.
Choosing to bat first after winning the toss, Hemel made their way to 228 all out – with only returning Australian Sam Jenkinson hitting the high-spots with a 49-ball 55. Nearest after that was 41 from opener Brett Penny.
That proved to be nowhere near enough as Sawbo openers Charlie Rudkin (111 n/o) and Gary Brown (110 n/o) saw off the runs needed in just 35 overs of the 50.
One bright spot for Hemel was the performance of youngster Richard Morton who managed to return figures of 0-42 in his full 10 overs which was not bad considering the carnage around him.
There was better news for Hemel Town II as they beat Cockfosters I for the first time since 2003 as the two sides have see-sawed up and down between the divisions.
This time it was quite a convincing victory for a strong Hemel side as they saw off Cockfosters by 102 runs.
Put in by Cockfosters, Hemel proved to have a solid centre to their batting – with Josh Graves hitting 55 from number 4, helped by 28 from Matt Potton at number 3 and 32 n/o from Nick Hodgins at number 5.
Billy May then removed the Cockfosters opener with the fourth ball and there proved no way back for them.
Hodgins led with 4-18, Ed Langley followed with 3-24 and Bryan Davies finished things off with 2-14.
Hemel Town III may finally get to play Bentley Heath at home later in the season, having played them away three times so far in the old Divisions Five and Six.
They were away again this time and Hemel failed to chase down the required runs, having put Bentley in to bat after winning the toss.
The Hubbards, batting at two and four, were the main men for Bentley, with the number 2 scoring 85 and the number 4 adding 83.
Zeeshan Tirmizi scored 22 at number 3, in what was the only other double figure score for the hosts in their 237 all out.
Openers Rory Fraser (4 - 50) and Adam Moulster (3 - 54) were the main wicket takers for Hemel.
The visitors’ reply never really got going, however, and at the halfway mark they were struggling at 87-5.
Early scores from openers Suren Perera (33) and John Pearson (21) got Hemel going but, despite 69 from Ram Hussain in the middle of the innings, they ended up 46 runs behind when all out in the 47th over.
The last three years’ fixtures between Hemel Town IV and Northampton Exiles II in the old Division Eight have all been cancelled.
However, this time the weather held off and the two sides got to play their game in the new Division 8B.
Playing at the new Heath Park Nursery ground, Hemel put the Exiles in and kept them to 186, bowling them out in the 40th over. U15 Jack Boughton turned in figures of 5-24 from 6.3 overs.
Chasing the runs, Hemel were 90-2 at the halfway stage, but then lost their way a little.
Earlier scores of 33 from John Clulow, 23 from Jim Langley and 22 from Mike Samuels had kept Hemel there, but it needed a forceful 23 n/o from number 9 Chris Pearson to see them over the line with seven balls remaining.
After going out of the National Cup last weekend, Hemel Town Sunday I played a hastily arranged friendly against wandering side The Outlaws to fill the gap this week.
The Outlaws were progressing well until the introduction of Ed Langley in the 34th over. In 3.4 overs he then ran through The Outlaws to return figures of 5-11 and put them out for 182.
Chasing the total, usual wicketkeeper and lower order batsman Liam Jahn took the Sunday opportunity to show what he was worth with the bat, opening the batting and scoring 66.
Hemel eventually reached their target after 37 overs, with seven wickets down.
> Chipperfield Clarendon
Chipperfield Clarendon II lost a tight game against Luton Town & Indians III as they were edged out in the opening game of the 2015 campaign.
Winning the toss and electing to bowl, Chipperfield’s Mahmood and Mepham bowled very tight spells without making any real inroads.
It was Graham Gurney (5-32) who took the majority of the wickets, with Andrew Oliver (2-20) and Nathan Wiles (2-14) helping out to bowl Indians out for 133 in the 38th over.
At 31-0, with Cousens and Oliver looking comfortable, it looked like the win was going the Dons’ way.
However, a collapse ensued and only Cousens (45) and Mepham (20) made any significant contribution as Chipperfield were bowled out for 122 in a disappointing defeat.
Chipperfield Clarendon III played Northwood Town III’s and lost, despite having their opponents at 9-4.
They allowed Northwood to recover to 159, with Chris Buckingham taking 4-33 and Bruce Samson snaring 3-23.
Only Dave Bunning with 19 and Malcom Leach with 24 offered any resistance as Chipperfield were bowled out for 110.
Bovingdon carried their promotion-winning form from the 2014 campaign into the new season with a convincing home win over Radlett IV.
The visitors batted first and were skittled for 95 with the wickets spread between Baxter (2-28), Shand (2-29), Blackburn (3-13) and Buttleman (2-21).
Despite the loss of an early wicket, Bovingdon coasted home inside 23 overs without any more wickets falling thanks to Buttleman (58 n/o) and Arnold (30 n/o).
On Sunday Bovingdon hosted Chenies and Latimer in a friendly. The home side posted 228 all out with good knocks from Stickland (92) and Baxter (54). The game ended in a draw as Chenies closed on 201/8 – Stickland was pick of the bowlers with 3-42.
Each of Berkhamsted’s four teams suffered defeats of the opening day of the Saracens Herts League on Saturday.
Berkhamsted I lost to Cheshunt by four wickets, having lost the toss and been inserted in overcast and damp conditions.
Berko found run scoring difficult throughout their innings; a number of players got starts before some mis-timed shots put the brakes on any acceleration.
Top scorer for Berko was Alan Gofton with his 31, with his side closing on 160-9 after their 50 overs.
In reply, Berko soon had Cheshunt in trouble by taking two early wickets.
But Chesunt’s number 3 held the innings together with 55 and, despite Berko chipping away, Cheshunt managed to win by four wickets with five overs to spare.
The pick of the bowlers for Berko was Riaz Richards with an incredible 10 overs for only 6 runs, while Chad Fortune snared 2-21 from his 10.
Berkhamsted are at home this Saturday and will look to pick up their first win.
Meanwhile, Berkhamsted II suffered a huge defeat in their home match against Reed III.
Reed batted first and posted a challenging total of 199-8, with the pick of the Berko bowlers being Darren Gower-Jacson taking 3-38 off of his 10 overs.
In reply, Berkhamsted were bowled out for a paltry 82 with only Mark Lewarne offering any resistance with his 37.
Despite only having nine men, Berkhamsted III were the pick of the club’s sides as they battled hard and lost by only 11 runs to an enthusiastic Harpenden V side.
Berko did well to restrict Harpenden to 173-8 in their 45 overs, with Simon Atkins taking 2-6 off his four-over spell.
In reply, Berko were in the chase with a good partnership between Atkins (38) and Will Bickerdike (22), however they eventually fell 11 runs short on 162-7.
Berkhamsted IV completed a poor day for the club by losing at Abbots Langley V by 144 runs.
Abbots posted a mammoth 265-5, with Ian Campbell taking 2-41, and in reply Berko subsided to 121. Again, Campbell offered the main resistance with 38.
> Kings Langley
Kings Langley’s top-two sides got off to a strong start to the Herts League season on Saturday as the first team secured a solid win at Broxbourne and the second XI won a close game at home to Knebworth Park.
At Broxbourne, Kings Langley I were in the field and took early wickets shared between Andrew Burnell, Ben Joyce and Tom Clark.
Broxboune then staged a recovery to 144-4 before a clatter of wickets saw them collapse to 160 all out.
Skipper CJ had strong figures of 3-24 but the pick was this year’s overseas player on his debut, Dan Donaldson, with 3-18 including some stunning catches.
In reply Kings had a great start, with a 100 opening partnership between Duncan Fleming (40) and 13-year-old debutante David Burnell top scoring with an impressive 44.
Paul Ashford finished on 37 not out to give Kings a comfortable win on 163-4 with six overs in hand.
Kings Langley II won the toss on the Common and elected to bat first. It was a family opening partnership, with 13-year-old Scott Rolf outscoring his father Kevin with 38.
It was a solid Kings Langley batting performance, with Andrew Colquhoun (41) and Matt Langston (38) helping the side to reach a respectable 212-8 off 50 overs.
Knebworth started strongly, but it appeared control was rescued by Kings in the middle overs as Oldham picked up 2-41 and Langston took 3-33.
With 28 required off two overs, the penultimate six deliveries conceded 18 runs. A tense final over ensued but Langston held his nerve and Knebworth were bowled out just four runs short.
Meanwhile, Kings Langley III lost to Offley and Stopsley by 99 runs.
The visitors raced to 263-7 in their 50 overs, but Josh Lloyd (3-50) and young Liberty Maher (2-51) were the pick of the bowlers for Kings Langley.
In reply, the home side made a steady start to reach 80-1 at the halfway stage as Russell Knights moved towards his score of 61. However, things unravelled in the second half as they faded to 154 all out.
Kings Langley IV played against Leverstock Green and bowled Levy out for only 88 – with that total including 26 wides.
Barry Harding picked up 3-9, Hadi Rizvi snared 3-25 and Billy Stephenson took 2-19, but Kings never recovered from a very poor start in reply and were all out for 60.
> Leverstock Green
Leverstock Green took 90 points from a possible 120 to start the new Saracens Herts League season in good shape – and nowhere was the tension greater than at The Green where a devastating spell of swing bowling from debutante Ajit Kumar set up the second XI for victory.
A magnificent 6-20 from his 10 overs helped remove Harpenden III for just 66 as Kumar made the most of bowler-friendly conditions at Bedmond Road. But the drama was
far from over. Levy found themselves 5-4 and 47-8 (Kumar 23) during a chase which reached a nail-biting climax.
Last pair Ian Wallis and Chrishan Casey defended 21 consecutive dot balls with the scores level, before the latter scooped the winning run over cover point.
Green’s second low-scores victory of the day came at Parmiter’s School where, having amassed a modest 88 all out (thanks in the main to a pair of 16s from Becky Tyson and Mike Parkes), Leverstock IV dismissed Kings Langley IV for just 60.
Starring with the ball was U15 bowler Luke Carl who took 4-22, ably supported by new 4s skipper Greg Coulshed who weighed in with 3-12 to bring up a first-day success.
It was a more comfortable win for Dayle Littlejohn’s first XI who saw the wickets shared around as hosts Ickleford were restricted to 104 all out.
In reply, opener Lewis Koch hit an unbeaten 54 while Littlejohn was unbeaten at number 5 with 33 as Green recorded a seven-wicket triumph.
In Division 9B, Levy Green III found things tough at North Mymms III. The hosts posted an imposing 252 – with three victims apiece for Steve May and Charlie Cooke.
Wicketkeeper Daniel Lake’s diligent undefeated 18 was the best the 3s could offer from a scorecard which showed a total of 114 all out.
Boxmoor I applied early pressure to Old Habberdashers, reducing the visitors to 54-3 after 25 overs.
However, the Old Habberdashers middle order rallied and they were finally bowled out in the 49th over having posted 171.
Imran Khan was the pick of the Boxmoor bowlers, finishing with 5-15 from his 9.1 overs.
At 75-1 in the 18th over, Boxmoor looked set for a comfortable victory. However, after Townsend was out for 46, some loose shots resulted in the loss of a further three wickets and, at 90-5, the game looked to be in the balance.
A period of consolidation from Boxmoor’s Stride and Crowther followed, and they eventually saw out the game in the 47th over, making 172-7.
Batting first having lost the toss, Boxmoor II set West Herts III 172 to win as Cameron Brooks top scored with 32.
In reply, West Herts could only manage 36 all out – Anum Hamdani took four wickets and Dave Young bagged three, superbly supported in the field by Richard Ballard who took a trio of outstanding catches.
It was a disappointing start for Boxmoor III as they went down by 153 runs to Bushey III. Dropped catches let Bushey get to 200 all out and the Boxmoor reply never got going as they were skittled for 47.
Likewise, It was a disappointing start for Boxmoor IV, losing by 121 runs away at Bushey IV.
The hosts racked up 190 runs in their 45 overs, and in reply Boxmoor could only muster 69, with Andy Potton the sole man to reach double figures.