Hemel finally get season going
Momentum is starting to move in the right direction for Hemel Hempstead Town after both their first and second XIs picked up wins on Saturday.
The fourth team also won again on Saturday to go top of their division as the club nearly gained a clean sweep of victories for the first time this season.
After two losses from their opening two games, it was back to winning ways for Hemel’s first XI on Saturday as they disposed of Ampthill Town I by three wickets in the Saracens Herts Championship.
Hosts Hemel had been beaten home and away by Ampthill last year so a measure of revenge here was sweet.
Batting first, the visitors were kept down to 245-9 in their 50 overs after some tight Hemel bowling.
Gareth James removed their openers in the first four overs and he ended with 3-39.
Shidhu Kanade (0-30) and Parth Mehta (3-21) put on the squeeze in the middle of the innings.
For Ampthill, Matt Manuell (54) was their best return with the bat.
Hemel set-off in their chase with Lewis Hodgins (45) and Brett Penny (20) helping rattle the score up to 86 in the first 18 overs.
Then Jack Doodson (58) and Gareth James (44) contributed an impressive fourth- wicket partnership of 100 runs in just 96 balls.
A few wickets started to fall and the run-rate started rising as batsmen played themselves in.
As ever in these occasions Will Langley (21 not out) had a decent knock and wicketkeeper Tom Elborn (26 not out) were the rescuers for Hemel.
Elborn, who opened the previous week at Reed, batted at number nine this week and hit his 26 off 18 balls, including taking Ampthill’s opener Wil Sneath for 15 in the 48th over as momentum swung right back into Hemel’s path.
They were able to win the game off the first ball of the last over.
The season’s first win finds them in seventh place in the 10-team Championship standings.
This Saturday they face a tough test when visiting the early league leaders Hoddesdon.
Hemel’s second team also got back on the winning trail for the first time this term in Saracens Herts League Division 3B with a big win over Southgate Adelaide I, who, again, had beaten them in both games last year.
Here at the Walker Cricket Ground it was a celebration for the first league century for Hemel’s Aaron Wilson, who hit 104.
A knock of 76 from skipper Tom Waterton and 52 from opener Ed Langley showed that Hemel’s top order were well in charge of the game.
Their eventual total of 278-5 from their 50 overs was not to be sneezed at.
In the reply, Hemel had Southgate at 96-5 just past the halfway mark of 27 overs, with seemingly no way back for the hosts.
Enter Fawad Ahmed, who put on 74 for the sixth wicket and a total of 75 to give Southgate a chance.
It was still not enough as Hemel’s Suren Perera snapped up 4-21 in just five overs to bowl the home side out for 219 in 43 overs.
They are now in sixth place in the league table and host Langleybury II this Saturday.
The half-term holidays took their toll on a much-weakened Hemel third XI as they lost for the first time this term when trounced by Letchworth Garden City III in Saracnes Herts League Division 6A.
Openers Will Stokes (19) and Darryl Barnett (32) put on 51 for the first wicket but when both were out towards the end of the first 20 overs the innings fell away.
A knock of 21 from Dan Turbutt in the middle of the innings held things in the balance but in the 44th over Hemel III were all out for 132.
Hemel’s bowlers kept at Letchworth in the reply but it took the hosts just 35 overs to get to their target.
There were a couple of wickets each for Matt Scears (2-27) and Ben Dumpleton (2-52), but it was not enough as the initial winning run to the start of the season was halted.
It was a tight-run game for Hemel’s fourth team but they eventually overcame visitors Letchwoth Garden City IV by six runs in their Division 9A clash to keep their unbeaten start to the season alive.
The bonus for Hemel was Letchworth giving away 53 extras in byes and wides, which made all the difference as Hemel only gave away 22.
Greg Keene (30) and Lewis Boughton (29) were the top run-scorers for Hemel up at the top of the order, before George Pearce added a quick-fire 21 towards the end before being stumped.
Letchworth similarly started off strongly with their top order all scoring over 20.
But Dan Keene (2-29) and Pearce (3-19) kept them under control and the Letchworth tail was not able to see them over the line as Hemel held on for the six-run win.
Hemel have now secured three wins out of three games to sit atop the table. They are away at bottom side Langleybury III this Saturday.
There were no Sunday games for the club.