Boxmoor I came agonisingly close to victory on Saturday as their latest match got to the final ball, with all four results still possible.
They had to settle for a draw against Allenburys but captain Richard Crowther will feel victory was snatched away from his team having arrived in the rain in confident mood following recent strong performances.
Allenburys batted first with their openers being watchful on a testing pitch but tight bowling from 14-year-old Lloyd Larkins and James McCluskey meant Boxmoor applied early pressure. It was Larkins who struck first, quickly followed by McCluskey’s first league wicket that was just reward for their fine opening spells.
Boxmoor’s back-up bowlers kept the pressure on with Crowther returning 2-35 and Ross Bargent bowling a tight 14-over spell of left arm spin for no reward. Good fielding resulted in a couple of runouts as Allenburys were restricted to 204-8.
Boxmoor’s reply started positively as David Coster scored 48 in an opening partnership of 64. His dismissal, somewhat dubiously given out LBW, was followed by the loss of three quick wickets as Boxmoor stuttered to 93-4. It took a partnership of 72 between McCluskey and wicket-keeper Sam Stride to get the Moor back on track.
McCluskey was the dominant partner as he found the boundary regularly in his 57.
On his dismissal, at 165-5, Boxmoor were still confident of victory as the target was well with within sight and down to less than a run a ball. Stride (22) took on the mantle of seeing the game home but was bowled with 15 runs required as the match entered its nerve-wracking finale. Some tight Allenburys bowling and nervy Boxmoor batting got the target down to seven off the last two overs with the final pair at the crease. The experienced Adam Hills couldn’t get the strike as Larkins, his young partner, faced the final delivery needing four to force the win. Larkins had to settle for a single as Boxmoor finished on 201-9 and a share of the spoils.
The 2nds welcomed Knebworth Park IV to the Moor. For only the second time this season, the skipper won the toss and bowled. Stan Harper (1-35) opened and picked up a wicket in his first over. After an impressive partnership, Stan Williamson (3-44) then removed the other opener and then Rewan Harper (4-39) joined in, running through the middle order. The Knebworth number five was batting well and reached his 50, ably supported by the number 11. Knebworth reached 195, before the innings was wrapped up, probably 30 runs too many.
The Boxmoor reply started slowly, as Dan Hobbs was caught for a duck in the first over. Nick Cottrell (34) was scoring freely before he became the opposition skipper’s next victim. Rob Smith soon followed without troubling the scorers and he was the first wicket of a hat-trick by the Park skipper, reducing Boxmoor to 38-5. Stan Williamson perished cheaply but 15-year-old Ed Shaw (47 not out) batted sensibly and just needed someone to stay with him. Amit Mahajan (34) went on the attack but when he was dismissed Boxmoor were still well short of the target at 70-7. Shaw then shared two stands of 50, firstly with Stan Harper (14) and then Rewan Harper (40), all three edging then toward a very unlikely victory. With just two runs needed, Rewan fell, bringing in number 11, Jay Goodwin. With the instructions to block out the over and let Shaw get the runs, the skipper faced his first ball and calmly hit the bowler back over his head for a four to clinch the game.
Boxmoor 3rds lost by three wickets to Chipperfield Clarendon 3rds at home in another close game that sees Boxmoor remain in fourth place in the Saracens Herts League Regional Division B West but they need to strengthen both the batting and bowling line-up to start climbing the standings.