Boxmoor secured a four-wicket home win over promoted Watton-at-Stone in Saracens Herts League Division 6B on Saturday to stretch their unbeaten run to start the season to eight games and maintain their hold of the summit by 28 points.
After last week’s tense one-wicket victory, there was determination not to go that close again, despite the absence of skipper Richard Crowther.
Vice-Captain Matt Smalley-Harris took the reigns on the hottest day of the year as Watton elected to bat first.
But it was the hosts who started quickly, as Watton were reduced to 15-6. James McCluskey (3-19) took both openers and it wasn’t long before partner Shaun Nichols (3-27) got in on the act, clean-bowling Watton’s number three.
Some smart mid-order hitting pushed Watton to respectability before tight bowling from spinner Prateek Malhotra and Smalley-Harris kept the score down to 145 all out.
Boxmoor set about the chase positively with Smalley-Harris (27) and Aidan Pimm putting on 40 for the first wicket.
But memories of the previous week came flooding back when the hosts lost a clutter of wickets following Smalley-Harris’s dismissal, to see them teetering at 70-5.
It took all-rounder Joe Hall (34) and Sam Pimm (40 not out) to settle the nerves, finding the boundary regularly as they pushed the score past the 100 mark.
Pimm and last week’s hero McCluskey (20 not out) saw Boxmoor home in the 32nd over.
This Saturday they travel to sixth-placed Old Elizabethans II.
Boxmoor II lost by six wickets away at Great Gaddesden in Division 9B.
With the temperature exceeding 30 degrees, Boxmoor headed the short distance to Gaddesden for a mid-table clash.
With the Boxmoor players praying for a hiatus from the blazing sun, the skipper duly obliged by winning the toss and electing to bat.
The innings started strongly with consistent boundaries found, reaching 77-1 before Richard Ballard fell for 27 bringing the enigmatic Flynn to the crease.
Runs continued with the imperious Nick Cottrell reaching 50 before succumbing to the tidy bowling of Stuart Upton.
Next up was Kelly Low, who started trading sixes with Flynn on the way to a quick-fire 21, leaving Flynn to finish the innings alongside Anum Hamdani (20) with a highly impressive and dominant 82 not out, for the visitors to finish on 226.
After possibly the best away tea of the season, including ice-cream and apple crumble, Boxmoor could perhaps be excused for being sluggish in the field but that wasn’t the case, with openers Saair Hamdani and Stan Harper keeping a tight hand on the runs on a very slow wicket.
Boxmoor continued to keep control of the runs and took key wickets, with the spin of Alex Harris (9-2-22-2) and Flynn (2-33).
This brought Gaddesden number four Phil Warren to the crease (93 not out) who Boxmoor failed to dislodge, meaning the home side reached the target with 15 balls to spare.
Honourable mentions went to two Boxmoor colts Joshua Low (4-0-24-0) and Euan Mathie (4-0-36-0) who both beat the bat on several occasions.
The Moor’s 3rds won by three wickets away at Harpenden VI in Regional Division B West.
They travelled the short distance to Harpenden on a very hot afternoon. The outfield was quick and the wicket looked good. The toss was won by Harpenden, who not surprisingly chose to bat.
Boxmoor opened with Phil Lovell and Paul Biddle, who kept it tight. Harpenden were struggling at 63-4 but a good partnership put on 79, until their top scorer (55) hit his own stumps to give Boxmoor that bit of fortune.
Four more wickets fell and Harpenden finished on a competitive total of 163-8.
The bowling was superb with Lovell (1-12), Stan Williamson (2-16) and Freddy Hockin (1-26) the pick of the bowlers, backed up by excellent fielding and expert wicket-keeping by 15-year-old Tilly Larkins.
The Boxmoor innings started well with Chris Bryon and Lovell making 36 for the first wicket, before Bryon was bowled by Cramer.
Dan Webb took the attack to the bowlers, scoring a powerful 41 with a fractured wrist.
At 94-3, Boxmoor looked comfortable, until a mid-order collapse became 119-7.
Matt Larkins then took control, scoring a fantastic unbeaten 44, supported by Paul Biddle (10 not out), to see Boxmoor home.
It was a great win, which kept the third XI in the chase for promotion ahead of their clash with Northwood Town III at home at Bourne End this Saturday.
The Sunday first XI lost by 15 runs away at Kensworth in a friendly, as Boxmoor’s fine run of victorious Sunday fixtures came to an end.
Despite the wicket looking spicy, Kensworth decided to bat. The Boxmoor openers started with great accuracy from Euan Mathie (8-2-21-0) and good pace from Kish Sharma (6-2-18-0) but they couldn’t get the initial breakthrough.
First change was Lloyd Larkins and, bowling his controlled away swing, he got the dangerous Winfield caught at cover.
Meanwhile, at the other end, N Patel was taking his opportunities and putting away any delivery that strayed down leg.
The big boundary meant lots of running for both sides and a lot of ground to cover for Boxmoor, with several chances landing in between the fielders.
Patel made it to his ton and retired before Larkins came back to close the innings and finish with figures of 8-1-21-3.
Kensworth were quite happy with their total of 180, given the conditions.
After tea, the Boxmoor innings did not get off to the best of starts. N Patel followed up his century with a bowling performance of 8-1-33-3, taking out the Boxmoor top order.
Steve Alderton came in at number four and looked to rotate the strike, but was steadily running out of partners. He ended up playing a poor shot when trying to find the boundary and was caught on 67.
Kensworth wasted no time in rattling through the rest of the Boxmoor order with the second highest scorer being extras.