Can Hemel stay the course at top?
It's fingers and toes crossed time for Hemel's Saturday first XI, who are top of Division 1 with just three games remaining.
This weekend presents a tough test as they are away at Leverstock Green, who are on a roll after winning their last three games.
The 2nd XI probably need one more win from their remaining three games to be sure of staying up in Division 3B while the 3rd team are already relegated from Division 5B.
The 4ths won again on Saturday but also need another victory to be certain of safety in Division 9A
The 1st XI kept their title charge on track after a home win against Northwood but made it more difficult than it needed be.
The four-wicket victory came with just seven overs to spare.
Earlier in the season they bowled Northwood out for 137 and then struggled to win the game.
This time they were cruising along to victory and then lost three wickets in a Sajid Aziz over to suddenly set the knees wobbling.
Northwood batted first and tight bowling from the Hemel outfit kept them to just 182-8 in their 50 overs.
Jack Doodson led in the wickets, with 3-31, but Steve Reader (2-26), Brett Penny (1-32) and Parth Mehta (1-34) all used their 10-over allotment well.
A couple of early wickets went down for Hemel in their reply but Tom Elborn (94) and Manvir Chauhan (33) were seeing Hemel along easily to victory. But Chauhan then tried to slog Aziz and was caught.
Mehta came in to try to shepherd Tom Elborn to a deserved century but things all changed in the 39th over. Elborn tried to reach his century in one hit off the first ball of the over, missed and was bowled for 94. Three balls later, Matt Dale tied himself up attempting a shot and was bowled. Two balls after that Jack Doodson was given out LBW to give Aziz three wickets in his penultimate over.
Time and, more particularly, overs were still in Hemel’s favour and Mehta (10 not out) with Ali Leighton (six not out) were able to see them over the line.
Hemel II managed to scrape a draw from the earlier home game with Flitwick but there was no such luck this time around on the road in limited overs.
Put in, Hemel struggled to get the scoreboard moving and only reached 71-3 after 20 overs.
They reached 100 after 30 overs but then fell away at the end to be all out for 148 in 43 overs.
Taq Hussain led the scoring with 44, Ryan Bell made 21 and Rahul Wickramsinghe added 20.
Flitwick took their time in the reply. Tight bowling from Charlie Hoskins (2-20) and Wickramsinghe (0-22) in their 10-over sessions kept it tight but Flitwick were able to see off the runs in 38 overs.
And so Hemel III’s residence in the Herts League Division 5B is at an end after their thumping 158-run defeat to Holtwhites Trinibis II on Saturday.
The win for Holtwhites saw them rise to the top of the division after Flamstead lost – no wonder they were so upset when Hemel III recorded their only victory of the league season against them on June 10 at Hemel.
Against such a large total of 308-9, there is not a lot to say about the Hemel bowling but credit went to young Ed Grayson (2-32) from his 10 overs and Martin Botha (1 - 40) from his allotment of overs. Alfie Bordoley managed 2-55 from 10, Matt Scears 2-74 from 10 and Adam Locke 1-75 from nine.
Midway through their 50 overs, Hemel were on 77-6 and not looking bright. Andy Turbutt (26) and Botha (24) managed a partnership of 50 for the seventh wicket but it was just a temporary lull before the inevitable loss arrived.
n Winning against the side at the bottom of Division 9A was always going to be crucial for Hemel IV to keep clear of relegation trouble and that is what they did on Saturday.
They bowled Bayford & Hertford II out for 120 on the Heath Park Nursery Ground with the wickets shared until Carl Chapman came on and cleared Bayford out with 4-16 in 4.2 overs.
Pranay Turlapati was Bayford’s main man, making 54 for almost half of their runs.
Then it was a case of rattling off the total in the chase. Skipper Mike Samuels made 35 and Rhys Fowler bashed 46 as Hemel made it over the line in just 27 overs.
That man Turlapati showed the one-man side they were by taking 6-28 to go with his runs. Hemel moved up to sixth in the table and one more win should ensure safety.
n The club’s Herts Trophy journey to the semi-finals this season has been all the more impressive considering it’s been by-and-large a makeshift Sunday XI.
But they came up a bit of a cropper at the weekend against Knebworth Park’s overseas player Jarrod Turner who smashed the Hemel bowlers for an unbeaten 181 from 147 balls as they amassed a huge 319-4 from their 50 overs. There wasn’t a lot the Hemel bowlers could do against the talented Knebworth line-up, with the four wickets that were taken shared between Liam Jahn, Adam Moulster, Jack Doodson and Shihdu Kanade.
Hemel managed 178 all out in the reply in 38 overs. Neil Morgan enjoyed himself up at the park with 85 and Jack Doodson added 43 but there was little other support as Shaun Robinson came on to clean out the tail with 3-7 in just three overs.