After back-to-back spotless weekends, it was back to a set of mixed results for Hemel on Saturday as availability issues at the top end of the club left selection dilemmas.
Given the quality of the players missing, there were still some good results for the second and third teams.
The stress showed at first and fourth-team level but the inner strength at the club shined through.
Prospects were initially looking good for Hemel’s first XI on the road at Dunstable in the Saracens Herts Championship, despite being without five of their regular players.
They bowled Dunstable out for just 188 in 48 overs, Brett Penny leading the way with 3-44 while Rory Fraser took 2-12, Johan Maritz 2-24 and Parth Mehta 1-19 in 10 overs which kept the brakes on the hosts.
However, the lack of frontline batters showed in the reply as Hemel were then dismissed for just 128.
Skipper-for-the-day Jack Doodson went in at number six and held on for an undefeated 41 but it all collapsed in front and around him.
As a result of the loss, Hemel slipped to fourth place in the division, down from third.
They host relegation-threatened Flitwick this Saturday at midday.
The rain around the Hemel area finally called an end to proceedings for the second team’s game at 7.15pm on Saturday, giving Hemel a victory by virtue of their run-rate.
There is no Duckworth- Lewis method at this level, it’s decided purely on runs divided by overs.
With rain in the offing, visitors Wheathamstead were needing six runs an over, more than the five-an-over Hemel had scored in their innings.
Shuffling up through all the sides to cover for the five players missing in the team above was Suren Perera, who seized on the opportunity by scoring 104 from the top of the order. It was his first ton of the season for the second team after being in the thirds since the first league game in May.
Aaron Wilson chipped in with 60 from number four as Hemel set the mark of 249-8 from their 50 overs.
Chasing the run-rate, it took Wheathampstead until the 26th over to reach 100.
Gathering clouds meant Hemel could keep their opponents’ run-scoring down so when the rain came they were behind the mark. Daryll Barnett was the pick of the Hemel bowlers with 2-36.
There was another rain-shortened victory for Hemel’s threadbare third XI.
Put in first, Hemel made it to 234 in their 50 overs with Will Kriehn top scoring with 45, followed by 42 from Tim Wright and 20s from Graham Clark (23) and Justin Phillips (22).
As ever with rain in the offing, it’s always good to bat first, get the runs on the board and control it from there.
Bryan Davies took out the two Boxmoor openers early then Richard Crowther (41) and Sam Pimm (42) brought Boxmoor back into the game before Tony Linfoot (2-10) saw them off. Rain then did the rest, much to Hemel’s delight.
Hemel’s fourth team were the second side from the club to lose over the weekend as visitors Old Minchendenians completed the double over Hemel and kept themselves in second place in Division 9B.
Hemel are now in fourth place in the division and they play third-placed Sandridge II away in their next match this Saturday.
It’s tough at the top end of the division.
The lack of availability in the top two sides showed its impact down at the fourth-team level, with players being drawn in from wherever possible.
Put in, Hemel only managed to make 164 on the normally high-scoring Nursery Ground pitch. Skipper Mike Samuels made 45 at the top, while Nic Benson (26), Vinnie Liddar (23) and Dil Khan (23) down at the bottom end added some respectability to the scoreline.
Old Minches needed just 36 overs to score the required runs, for the loss of only three wickets and avoided the rain that eventually swept through.
There was one wicket each for Benson (1-30) and Ajay Savania (1-16).
On Sunday, Hemel’s first team were due to host Winchmore Hill in the Lords Chess Valley Cricket League but the opposition conceded to give Hemel four points in the standings.