It’s crunch time for Hemel CC’s Saturday 1st XI as the second-placed side face the next-best three league rivals in the space of as many weeks.
Hemel won on the road at Kings Langley on Saturday in Saracens Herts Division One to reach the second position in the table and now face Harpenden II (3rd, at home), Old Owens (league-leaders, away) and Broxbourne (4th, home) in consecutive weeks.
Saturday’s win saw a measure of revenge metered out to Kings after Hemel had lost to the same club in the Heath Park Cup semi-final the previous Tuesday.
The victory means they did the league double over Kings following Hemel’s home triumph on May 6 but this was a little easier than the earlier 73-run win.
Batting first, Kings ran into a buzz-saw in Jack Doodson, who was bowling properly for the first time this year and returned a fiver-f0r (5-26).
Langley’s Sri Lankan batter Varman Ratnakumaran felt the same on Saturday as Lewis Hodgins found the previous weekend. On that occasion Hodgins came to bat having scored centuries on his previous trips to the crease but was then out first ball the following Saturday.
Ratnakumaran, the man of the match in Langley’s Watford Observer Cup final victory on Wednesday with mighty six-hitting, was out first ball here to Parth Mehta, caught by Nick Hodgins.
Mehta snagged an impressive 4-21 from his 15 overs as Kings reached 134 all out.
In reply, an early burst from Kings’ bowler Mark Brazier (3-34) saw Hemel in trouble at 37-4 after 10 overs.
But Matt Dale (40) and Jack Doodson (58 not out) saw Hemel to a comfortable five-wicket victory in 30 overs.
The Saturday 2nd XI endured last-over agony when they slipped to defeat via the second ball in the final over of the match against Langleybury II.
Anjam Khan was caught leg-before by Steve Carter, (3-32), by the decisive ball.
Batting first, Langleybury were in trouble at 37-4 after 12 overs with opening spinners Anjam Khan (3-36) and Cameron Hutcheon (2-48) putting them under the cosh.
But Will Oxley (83) and Ian Woodward (64) then put on 153 for the fifth wicket to dig Langleybury out of their hole.
Suren Perera (2-52) came on to remove both but the damage had been done as Langleybury ended on 217-7 from their 53 overs.
The chase from Hemel got off to a poor start when they lost opener Ryan Bell in the first over and after 22 overs it was 44-4 and looking bleak.
Liam Jahn (26) and Sunny Kuller (13) nursed it to 60-4 after 27 overs, leaving 158 to win in the last 20 overs.
Digging in for a draw was the watchword and it nearly happened right until the last over.
This Saturday they travel to St Albans West Indian.
Hemel III thought they had Kings Langley II on the rack after Charlie Hoskins (1-28), Will Hodgins (2-16) and Rahul Wickramsinghe (3-53) had their early batsmen out.
But U14 prodigy Elliot Hutchings (73) came to the Langley rescue and managed to see them up to 236 all out.
Tony Beamish took 3-51 for Hemel’s bowling attack.
In reply, Hemel were scurried out for just 114 in 40 overs.
Duane Smith took 5-23 for Langley as the best Hemel could muster was 32 from Rahul Wickramsinghe and 20 each from Graham Clark and Scott Radcliffe.
Hemel IV lost to Shenley Village III for the second time this season in the league, although they managed to score five more runs this time.
Unfortunately, Shenley managed to score 41 more and ran out 56-run winners.
Batting first, Shenley’s Andy Elliot scored a neat 82 while Hemel welcomed 4-68 from Ross Chapman.
Hemel’s reply saw 73 from skipper Mike Samuels but other than a knock of 24 from fellow opener Will Stokes there was no other decent score to note as the rest of the innings was despatched by Shenley’s youngster Ollie White, who took 5 - 34.