Gallery: Wheathampstead happy with points haul

Division Three Wheathampstead 193-9 (53.0) Sawbridgeworth II 187-8 (47.0) WHEATHAMPSTEAD continued their fine start to the season by taking a well earned 16 points from their hard fought draw at home to Sawbridgeworth II in Division Three

Division Three

Wheathampstead 193-9 (53.0) Sawbridgeworth II 187-8 (47.0)

WHEATHAMPSTEAD continued their fine start to the season by taking a well earned 16 points from their hard fought draw at home to Sawbridgeworth II in Division Three on Saturday.

After winning the toss, first team skipper, Steve Booth, elected to bat and saw his openers pummel Sawbo's opening attack as the score raced to 50 without loss after just eight overs. Pakistani ace, Hashmi was in particularly destructive form as he accounted for 47 runs in the opening stand. At this stage a score in excess of 260 looked likely as the away team were left shell shocked.

Sawbo introduced club stalwart, Dave Burrell, and with all of his experience and guile, he managed to stem the flow of runs and pick up wickets at regular intervals. Although Chris Bates (26), Zaf Iqbal (22) and Sam Ledger (20) all got good starts Wheathampstead were in a spot of bother as they crawled their way to 134-7 off of 39 overs.

It was left to the lower order to post a competitive score and ensure that their allocated overs were used up. New signing, Rory Howarth, blasted a quick fire 17, before the crucial last wicket partnership of 32 between the number 10 batsman, Nick Martin (19 not out), and the number 11, Dave Tree (14 not out) took the Wheathampstead score up to 193-9. Dave Burrell was the star for Sawbo, as his lengthy spell was rewarded with figures of 22-3-67-4.

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In reply, Sawbo got off to the worst possible start as premier fast bowler, Nick Martin, reduced the away team to 20-2. Youngster, James Rudkin then joined veteran batsman Ted Levey at the crease and although the Wheathampstead fielders failed to take the chances on offer, Sawbo looked like they were cruising as they reached a commanding position of 108-2 off of 26 overs.

The introduction of left arm spinner, Steve Booth, had an immediate impact on the match as in only his second over he drew Rudkin (57) out of his crease with a well flighted delivery that beat the outside edge and was smartly stumped by wicketkeeper Ledger. The impressive Booth extracted a lot of turn which hampered the batsman and Sawbo's run chase lost momentum. Eventually, the pressure told as Levey (77) was cleaned bowled by the Wheathampstead skipper, leaving Sawbo on 166-4 after 42 overs.

With 28 runs required from the last five overs and with six wickets in hand Sawbridgeworth were looking favourites to win the match. Rory Howarth was reintroduced into the attack and bowled with pace and hostility that saw him pick up two quick wickets as the away team floundered in hunt of their first win of the season.

Sawbridgeworth needed nine runs for victory off the last over of the match and Wheathampstead required an improbable four wickets to continue their recent trend by winning in the final over of the match. Remarkably, a Nick Martin run out off of the first ball of the last over, followed by another direct hit from Steve Booth on the very next ball, set up the prospect of another enthralling Wheathampstead victory. On this occasion, it was not to be as Sawbo settled for draw and refused to take any chances from the remaining four deliveries to finish on 187-8.

Nick Martin (7-0-24-2), Rory Howarth (7-1-25-2) and Steve Booth (13-2-47-2) all bowled well, but dropped chances in the field and one or two decisions not going in favour of the home side really cost Wheathampstead the win and the chance to remain in top spot. After the game, a reflective Chris Martin said: "There is a real fighting spirit installed throughout the team these days. Confidence is high amongst the lads and we can take a lot of positives in the way we fought back today. I'm really excited by the way we have started the season and hopefully we can continue to play this way."

In Division Eight, Wheathampstead II went away to Cheshunt and all the batsmen were lining up to bat on a billiard table of a wicket.

Cheshunt won the toss and not surprisingly opted to take advantage of the conditions and bat first. Fiery opening spells from Ben Griffiths and Harry Swan saw each take an early wicket, only to bring in Grant and skipper Mark Brooks who hit a century and half century respectively. The Wheato bowlers battled hard and eventually Rob Alvis claimed the wicket of Grant via Makesh Patel's superb juggling catch on the boundary. Tidy work from Tim Kiek behind the stumps kept the Cheshunt batsmen alert and their fast scoring rate led to a declaration after 48 overs on 242-6.

Scoring 242 was always going to be a challenge not helped when opener Steve Winton tickled a catch to the wicket keeper in the third over. Keith Martin (30) and New Zealander Guy Wilson (57) repaired the damage with a stand of 70 before a mid wicket collision between the two saw the former felled and run out. Wheato started to bat positively and excellent 50 partnerships followed with Ben Griffiths hitting 39 and Makesh Patel swatting 40 not out as maximum batting points were secured with the total at 202-5. Skipper Lawrence Garland was happy with the performance and another solid batting display which was rewarded with 11 points for the draw.

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