The return of dry weather and limited-overs cricket saw Boxmoor I get back to winning ways against local rivals Abbots Langley II on Saturday.
Despite losing another coin flip, skipper Richard Crowther wasn’t too concerned when asked to bat first.
But he had other thoughts when Abbots reduced the Moor to 30-3. On a pitch that was hard for stroke-makers to find a rhythm, Crowther and Ross Bargent set about the recovery with a 46-run stint. Runs started to come easier as Bargent (50) was joined by James McCluskey (36) and they took it to 136. Bargent deservedly reached his first half-century this season but his dismissal sparked a clatter of wickets that reduced the hosts to 155-8. Anum Hamdani (35) shepherded the tail past 200 with much-needed boundaries, as Boxmoor settled for an all-out total of 204.
Abbots’ reply started poorly as McCluskey produced the ball of the match to bowl their opener for a duck as the seamers found plenty of early movement. But it was the introduction of spin that saw the Moor take a grip on the match. Bargent produced a miserly spell (10-3-21-1) to continue his fine all-round performance.
Crowther chipped away at the middle order to bag 4-48 but the Abbots’ captain was dogged as he reached 50 and was looking to win the game on his own. With three wickets and five overs left, 30 runs were needed. McCluskey was brought back and enticed the Abbots captain to sky one to mid-on where Crowther held his nerve to take the catch. The innings was soon wrapped up by McCluskey (3-28) as Abbots were bowled out for 179.
The excellent 25-run win which puts Boxmoor level on points with their opponents as they head into their final three games. Next up is another local fixture against Chipperfield Clarendon II.
Boxmoor II, again with key players missing, travelled to fifth-placed Holtwhite Trinibis III, looking to bounce back from last weeks’ heavy defeat.
Fed-up of losing the toss, the skipper sent out one of his team for the toss, who promptly called correctly and decided to insert the opponents.
With a fast outfield, their opening bats started strongly and got to 50 within 10 overs.
Jamie Vincent Jones (2-40) made a breakthrough and then Jay Goodwin (3-45) picked up the other opener, who fell for 38 when he could have kicked on. Their captain got among the runs and was looking to score big, until he was caught and bowled with a fantastic one-handed catch by 15-year-old Saair Hamdani (2-26). With runs becoming harder, wickets fell regularly. Evergreen John Scott (3-37), with his clever drift, also got wickets and Holtwhites were dismissed for 174.
Holtwhites’ bowlers were impressive, picking up the Moor openers cheaply as they were reduced to 30-2. But Dan Smith (35) and Sam Pimm (8) rebuilt with a 47-run jaunt before Stan Williamson (40) continued to inch closer to the total. It was edgy but left to 14-year-old Ben Mannering (20) and Saair Hamdani (5 not out) to bat sensibly and put the Moor close to victory. Saair hit the winning runs with two wickets remaining. The hard-earned win leaves them in second and on course for promotion but the last three matches are crucial, starting with Chorleywood III at home on Saturday.
In the penultimate home game of the season, Boxmoor III welcomed table-topping West Herts IV to Warners End, a team that had only lost once all season. A weakened Boxmoor side were hoping to put together a more determined and consistent showing than their previous recent outings.
Having lost the toss, Boxmoor were asked to field and opening bowlers Paul Biddle (6-0-28-0) and club chairman Matt Larkins (4-0-10-2) made a solid start, supported by some strong fielding, including an excellent diving catch from Biddle, as West Herts struggled to forge effective partnerships.
First-change bowlers Mubashar Ijaz (8-0-21-1) and Gaby Pimm found good lines and swing to maintain the pressure on the visitors. However, as was the case in the reverse fixture, West Herts skipper Antony Haydon changed the match with an aggressive 80 that was struck at better than a run-per-ball rate before he fell leg-before. Fortunately for Boxmoor, an inspired spell of spin bowling from Aaron Hinton (8-1-59-4) and the return of Pimm to the attack, who collected her first wickets in senior cricket to finish 6.5-0-38-3, meant the West Herts inning was curtailed prematurely as they finished 181 all out from 34.5 overs.
After tea, Boxmoor batted admirably with opener Chris Bryon hitting a maiden half-century with a dogged 65, before falling just four balls short of carrying his bat. This ensured that maximum bowling points were partnered with five batting points as Boxmoor finished 147-6 from the allotted 40 overs. Special credit went to Paul Jarvis (five) and Biddle (11) who were asked to bat out of position at two and three respectively, and who saw off the opening West Herts bowlers with disciplined and watchful defence, and to Pimm, who backed up her bowling with an attacking 19 before being caught in the deep.
n On Sunday Boxmoor’s 1st XI hosted Great Gaddesden and were looking for revenge after a hefty defeat earlier in the season. After losing the toss and being asked to field, a tight opening spell from Jay Goodwin and Jamie Vincent-Jones, who was the pick of the bowlers (2-18), restricted the visitors. Gaddesden found their batsmen getting in but not going on to record big scores, with most falling in the 20s and 30s as Boxmoor rotated their arms. Eventually Gaddesden finished on 211-6 with John Cheeseman top scoring with an undefeated 56.
Boxmoor began the chase in impressive style with Jacob Ashburner racing to a quick-fire 56 as part of an opening partnership of 85 with Phil Lovell, who ground his way to a maiden half-century for the club.
But wickets began to fall and prospects were looking sour for Boxmoor at 176-7 until an eighth-wicket partnership between Alex Harris and Keith McKay (both 25 not out at the finish) carried Boxmoor impressively over the line with a ball to spare. It was a real nail-biting finish in a well-matched, friendly game.