The first Herts League game of the new season took place on Saturday with Hemel Hempstead Town’s first XI gaining a good win at Luton Town & Indians first XI, which is always a tricky place to visit.
The opening game of the league season is always a tough prospect, made more so for Hemel because they found themselves as the promoted side in this Herts League Championship away clash at Luton, who had been relegated from the Premier Division last season.
But, no matter, Hemel saw it through with a comfortable victory by six wickets.
Key was the start and in his first over Hemel bowler Brett Penny bowled the Luton overseas player Murtaza Shabbir Trunkwala for just two runs after six minutes and Hemel were on their way.
Tight bowling from the Hemel side kept Luton under wraps and they ended up bowling them out for 153.
Penny and Shidhu Kanade ended up with two wickets apiece while the remaining wickets were shared by Steve Reader, Lewis Hodgins, Parth Mehta and Nick Hodgins.
Things were not looking too good for Hemel in the reply at 32-4 after 12 overs, but Jack Doodson (69) and Tom Elborn (46 not out) steadied the ship with a fifth-wicket partnership of 85.
The departure of Doodson brought Tom Elborn to the crease and he kept things going with Will Langley as their 37-run sixth-wicket partnership saw Hemel to victory with more than five overs of the 50 to spare.
The first XI host Sawbridgeworth in their home opener this Saturday.
Hemel’s second XI were also taking on Luton Town & Indians II on Saturday in Herts League Division 3B, this time at their Heath Park home ground.
Hemel secured a narrow three-run victory at home towards the end of the last campaign which secured Hemel’s place in the division and put an end to Luton’s hopes of promotion.
With that in mind it was hardly surprising that Luton were intent on make sure they did not slip up again in the first game of the 2018 league season.
Winning the toss and putting Hemel into bat, Luton made sure that no batsman seized control of the runs.
Taq Hussain top-scored for Hemel with 32 and skipper Tom Waterton was next highest with 29 but the rest of his side were in the mid-teens with in the scores.
Bowling Hemel out for 154, Luton were then able to score the necessary runs with seven overs to spare and for the loss of only five wickets.
Suren Perera with 2-18 was the pick of the Hemel bowlers.
Hemel’s third XI were at the Heath Park Nursery Ground on Saturday to host Letchworth GC III in Herts League Division 6B.
A revitalised Hemel side saw themselves to a 77-run triumph in the opening league game of 2018.
Put into bat, Hemel skipper Graham Clark (38) and veteran Bryan Davies (48) put on 79 for the first wicket in 20 overs to set the ball rolling.
Aaron Wilson came in at number four and scored 66 not out to push Hemel up to 229-5 in their 50 overs.
Bowling second with a reasonable score to defend, Hemel’s bowlers were able to make significant inroads into the Letchworth batters with the wickets shared around.
Dave Jenkins made the best inroad with 3-9 from five overs and there were a couple of wickets each for Daryll Barnett (2-29) and Tony Linfoot (2-28).
It was a confident start to the league season for the team.
Elsewhere, there was no league match for Hemel’s fourth XI as hosts London Colney had a burst water main which flooded their pitch.
Hemel’s Sunday XI enjoyed a win in a friendly on Sunday when hosting North Harrow at Heath Park.
It was a gloriously sunny day for this early warm-up game for the team’s Sunday XI.
They have played North Harrow in the pre-season for the past two years, the first game in 2016 being won by Hemel by 21 runs while last year North Harrow won by two wickets.
This year it reverted back to Hemel with a 105-run victory.
Strength at the top of Hemel’s batting order was key as openers Craig Weston (65) and Sunday skipper Lewis Hodgins (50) both set the mark.
The Hemel bowling then took control with tight line and length deliveries, together with the necessary wickets.
Will Langley with 3-8 gained the best return.