Brightlingsea Cricket Club has won Division 9i of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Cricket Championship it its first season back in the Saturday League.
Travelling away on Bank Holiday Monday to play in a re-arranged game against Maldon 4th XI, Brightlingsea won the crucial toss and put the opposition into bat, keen to take as many wickets as possible to secure the vital points six required.
From the start it was clear that Maldon had significantly strengthened their side from the one Brightlingsea played at home earlier in the season, but an early break through by Rowan Hunt gave hope to the away side and set the tone for a disciplined bowling performance from the whole team.
In tandem with Alfie English, the opening pair made steady in-roads into the Maldon side whilst also keeping down the run rate. Rowan finished his spell of eight overs for 23 runs and two wickets - an average of 2.88 runs per over – and the pressure was building on the Maldon batters. Alfie finished his full 11 overs for 40 runs and one wicket, complementing his team-mate’s runs per over with an equally impressive 3.64 against players brought into the Maldon team to strengthen its resolve.
The superb bowling strength of the side continued when Tom Savage came into the game, posting equally excellent figures of nine overs for 35 runs and, more importantly, an additional three wickets. This pressure meant the Maldon team had to hit out, to push on their score and captain Jack French, and vice-captain Colin French faced a middle order onslaught.
The early pressure paid dividend in the later stages of the innings, with Byron Hatch dismissing two more of their batters and securing four precious points on the day. Byron finished with five overs for 32 runs but important wickets in the final overs of the match. Brightlingsea had held Maldon to 201 runs, giving themselves a chance of victory, though things didn’t start according to plan when opening batter Giles Scrutton was bowled in the first over.
Number three, Tom Savage found himself at the crease a little earlier than he had expected. With Colin French holding steady at one end, Tom was quickly at 26 runs, with some fabulous stroke play and four boundaries. However, Tom was unable to build on his strong foundation and it was up to batter number four, Rowan Hunt, to take the crease.
At 53-2 the foundation for those vital 115 runs had been set and with the score at 80-2, the run chase was on, but Brightlingsea were soon to find themselves facing perhaps one of the biggest challenges of the season, in their final game.
When the defences of Colin were finally broken, he left the field of play for the last time this season after amassing a total of 659 runs with an average of 131.8 across the season.
Seconds later Rowan was caught behind for 13 and with his wicket falling at 80-4 the chances of winning the game outright had diminished and Brightlingsea’s focus was now on scoring the 115 runs needed to gain the points required to win the league. Then, soon after the wickets of both Byron Hatch and Captain Jack French fell in quick succession for five and six respectively, leaving the team at 94-6 – a tantalising 21 runs away from their objective with only four batters left.
However, Morgan Hatch's attritional innings of seven from 49 balls frustrated Maldon's attack and with Alfie English taking a defensive stance, the pair patiently batted their way towards the total needed to secure championship victory.
(Report supplied by Brightlingsea Cricket Club)