Hatfield & Crusaders and Rickmansworth shared a win apiece in a closely contested double header on Saturday 1 August.
Keen to notch a first win of the truncated league season after a tie and an abandonment, Hatfield & Crusaders’ 1stXI made a flying start, after being asked to field at Rickmansworth.
Opening bowlers Joe Bigley (4/17) and Sam Edge (1/30) bowled at good pace and with great discipline, as Hatfield & Crusaders took full advantage of the new ball on a treacherous surface. Some remarkable catching in the slip cordon – as Heath Bond caught a stunning catch diving to his left, minutes after his own athletic parry had enabled Sukhi Grewal to cling on to a fine reaction catch – helped to reduce the hosts to 23/5.
Opener Taz Shehabi stood firm, however, and settled into a composed and patient innings. He was ably supported by Ali Asghar, who took full advantage of a couple of lapses in the field to contribute 36 belligerent runs, in a partnership worth 71. Although Ian Golder (1/48) broke this stand – following another sharp catch by wicketkeeper Yugal Kalaskar – Rickmansworth were on the way to an imposing total.
Left-arm spinner Gareth Wynne (4/16) bowled an excellent spell to claim the wicket of Shehabi – who holed out to mid-on for an impressive 80 – and limit any further damage. The opener contributed exactly half of Rickmansworth’s total of 160, a very respectable effort on a pitch with plenty of variable bounce.
Despite the early loss of Bond, adjudged leg before wicket, Hatfield & Crusaders’ response started well, reaching 35/1 after 10 overs. However Golder (13) and Ben Gethin-Golder (16) fell in quick succession, before two further LBWs left Hatfield at a precarious 38/5.
Some disciplined bowling throughout the middle overs from Faizan (1/18), Latif (3/2) and Asghar (3/14) made scoring extremely difficult. Despite a slight recovery, featuring a top score of 18 from skipper Ben Clark and a useful 16 from Bigley, Hatfield & Crusaders were left with too much to do, and were eventually dismissed for 99.
There was a better performance from the 2nd XI, who defeated Rickmansworth II by six wickets at Ascots Lane. Rickmansworth made 175/9 from their 45 overs, with wickets shared among Hatfield & Crusaders’ attack. Opening bowler Rory Gethin-Golder started the innings well with 2/29 – including a remarkable spell of two wickets in a run of four consecutive maidens – with no let-up from Urvish Mistry (2/33).
Skipper Andy Foster (3/44) and Juvin James (2/23) also bowled good spells, with the latter claiming the wicket of top-scorer Bilal for 47. Hatfield & Crusaders made an excellent start in reply, reaching 49 in the 13th over, before Matt Welch was run out for 14. Rory Faraday struck a couple of sixes in a quickfire 16, before he was caught.
Opener Mark Collins held the innings together with a composed and resolute 40, including five boundaries. His departure prompted a slight wobble from Hatfield, who still required 53 from the final 11 overs.
Any nerves were allayed, however, by an excellent partnership from Ben Pulham (29*) and Urvish Mistry (32*), who saw the team home comfortably with 15 balls to spare. Pulham ensured there were no further alarms with an unflappable display, while Mistry struck five fours and a six from a knock of just 22 balls to finish the seal the win in style.
The 3rd XI were also victorious, against Little Berkhamsted II, in the first fixture held at Newgate Street, the side’s new home ground after the move from Roe Hill.
Martin Webster (26) and Keyur Mistry (29) combined for a 64-run partnership, which provided the bulk of Hatfield & Crusaders’ total of 109.
Little Berkhamsted fell 31 runs short in reply, with the wickets shared between Tawfiq Mannan (3/18), Hari Rathakrishnan (2/12) and Ravi Lavu, who took 5/24.
Despite the disappointing reverse for the 1st XI, this was a very encouraging weekend, as the 2nd and 3rd XIs both claimed their first wins of the season, with impressive all-round team performances.