Jack is Hemel hero in big win
Hemel Hempstead Town’s first XI extended their undefeated streak to four matches and closed the gap on Reed by beating that side at home at the weekend.
It means Hemel have now won four of their past seven games, to go along with two winning draws, in the Saracens Herts Championship.
A tight eight-run victory over Reed at Heath Park on Saturday closed the gap from fourth-placed Hemel and then second-placed side Reed to just nine points, while leaders Hoddesdon are now only 26 points clear.
The week before Hemel had knocked off then-leaders Shenley Village.
But it was a close-run affair against Reed, with the weather taking it’s toll on proceedings.
Put in to bat, Hemel were soon in trouble at 5-2 after just four overs when openers Hemish Ilangaratne and Lewis Hodgins were snared by Reed bowler Jack Tidey.
The usual saviour at number three, Brett Penny, was then dismissed after 10 overs with Hemel on 27-3.
But the hosts’ Jack Doodson stepped up to haul Hemel back from the brink.
He went on to score 103 from just 127 balls (16 fours and one six) to bring Hemel around.
He was backed by Ed Langley (24), but when he was dispatched with the Hemel score on 158-7, the hosts still needed help from last week’s Heath Park Cup final man of the match Tom Elborn, who hit 26 from 24 balls, to pull the score to 196-8 from their rain-allotted 51 overs.
Not in second place for no reason, Reed were looking good in the chase at 77-2 from their first 13 overs.
The draw of spinner Parth Mehta (3-52) proved to be their undoing. He kept Reed behind the asking rate and Hemel had sufficient bowling changes to keep them thinking.
The wickets were spread around until Hodgins, who opened the bowling, came back on to pick up two late wickets, including key man Matt Sampson ( 42), who had been holding Reed together.
Hemel closed in on an eight-run victory to consolidate fourth spot in the table.
This Saturday sees Hemel travel to bottom-but-one side Ampthill Town.
There was no game for Hemel’s 2nd XI due to scheduled opponents Southgate Compton dropping out of the league.
But there were enough youngsters and older players available to drum up a rare fifth XI side to play an away friendly at Ricky III under the captaincy of Ben Dumpleton.
Hemel went on to win by four wickets after a good spread of wickets amongst all their bowlers and an unbeaten knock of 53 from Rohit Patel before he retired hurt.
There was another close clash for Hemel 3rds, who managed to hold on to beat Preston 2nds in Division 6A.
Preston were able to make their way to 189 thanks to Tom Chambers (67) and Olly Catlin (40), while bowlers Charlie Hoskins (3-21), Suren Perera (2-29) and Ross Chapman (2-42) did the damage for Hemel.
Hemel struggled in the reply and were flailing at 62-3 with their top three batters out. Number four Dave Jenkins (28) fell with the score on 112 and number five Adam Moulster went for just four runs to put Hemel in big trouble.
Andy Turbutt proved to be the man for a crisis, hitting 51 from 88 balls in the company of Matt Petchell (19), who took 35 balls to get off the mark.
They guided Hemel along and eventually got over the line with two overs and three wickets to spare to maintain second spot place in the table.
Having lost at home to Hemel IV early in May, Aldenham seemed to arrive for the reverse fixture at Hemel with a mission and went on to fulfil it to gain a measure of revenge.
Putting Hemel in, they kept them to 212-8 from their 45 overs.
Skipper Mike Samuels opened and scored 73, putting on 111 for the sixth wicket with Anjam Khan (58).
They closed on 212-8, with bowlers Charlie Munroe (3-21) and Sheith Ahmed (2-22) giving little away.
In their reply, Ubaid Khaliq (56) hit runs from the top and Basil Letts (60) helped them from the middle.
An undefeated 50-run partnership for the eighth wicket saw them over the line with two overs to spare.
Anjam Khan (3-49) and Dan Keene (2-44) were the pick of the Hemel bowlers.
Hemel’s Sunday first XI played what has now become a yearly friendly fixture against Saracens in a 40-over game.
It was actually the second time playing them this term as they slotted into a vacancy on June 2 after a drop out.
Hosts Hemel batted first and Australian overseas player Jack Bailey (102) scored his first century for the club.
Lewis Hodgins added a rapid 33 and Nic Benson (33 not out) hit his highest score of the year.
In reply, Letchworth Garden City’s Championship player Ben Wallace scored an unbeaten 127. Earlier in June he had scored 119 for Saracens.
Saracens pushed the run-rate, which resulted in a trio of sharp run-outs by Hemel’s fielders, as the hosts went on to win by 44 runs.
Ross Chapman took 2-40 to lead the Hemel bowling attack.