Hemel Town I’s relegation from the Premier Division of the Herts League was finally confirmed on Saturday with a defeat at Welwyn Garden City.
Batting first, Welwyn were in initial trouble at 32-3 after Brad Finch (4-54) took out the opening three batsmen.
But then Owais Shah (52) and Aaron Laraman (97) – both recent county batsmen – put on 99 for the fourth wicket to bring WGC around. This proved crucial as Welwyn saw themselves to 253-9 from their 50 overs.
Hemel got off to a good start in reply, with Brett Penny (43) and Hemish Ilangaratne (43) putting on 82 for the first wicket.
However, that took half of the 50 available overs, meaning that chasing was the name of the game from then on.
Knocks of 25 from Josh Graves and 23 from Ali Leighton at better than a run a ball kept the chase on but it could not be sustained and Simon Bridgewater (3-35) was able to mop up the Hemel tail.
There was a classic end of season battle between sides at the top of Herts League Division 2B as leaders Abbots Langley I got the better of third placed Hemel Town II.
Hemel batted first and struggled to 152 all out, with only Suren Perera (49), Tom Waterton (36) and Richard Morton (30) making it to double figures.
Chasing Abbots down at the halfway stage of 25 overs, Hemel had their opponents struggling with six wickets down and only 104 runs in the bank.
However, the top three Hemel bowlers had used up their allotted overs and it was a matter of getting results from the remaining bowlers.
Abbots relied on Laurie Watson (26 n/o) to see them over the line as Hemel got them eight down but narrowly lost. As before, another 20 runs could have made all the difference.
Hemel Town III kept their promotion hopes alive with a hard fought win over Division 5A leaders Watford Town.
Watford won the toss and batted first, overcoming a shaky start to get to 185 all out from 39 overs.
Anjam Khan led the wicket takers with 3-46, while Martin Botha chipped in with 2-40 and Rahul Wickramsinghe snared 2-48.
It was a reachable score on the Heath Park Nursery Ground – not that the Hemel batsmen showed it as the first five batters were skittled out.
However, Aaron Wilson (33) and Andy Turbutt (28) steadied things before skipper Anjam Khan (58 n/o) came in at number 8 to see Hemel home at the beginning of their last over.
A couple of weeks ago it was predicted that Hemel Town IV may need one more win to avoid relegation from Division 8B – and that may well be the case as they got the better of third placed Old Elizabethans II.
Hemel fielded a mixed side, with Scott Radcliffe making his debut as skipper – but things didn’t look good at the halfway point as Hemel were 69-6 and in a lot of trouble.
But Kyle Malan (34), Ryan Wilson (43) and Chris Pearson (59) turned it around with an assault on the bowling to get Hemel up to 220 all out.
It was then a case of taking wickets and keeping the runs down which the Hemel bowlers managed – just. Figures of 2-37 for Dawood Iqbal, 2-49 from Chris Pearson and 2-15 from Jim Langley kept them in the hunt.
Finally, Hassan Ashraf with 3-47 was able to see off the last couple of batters to give Hemel a win by 12 runs to move them up to seventh in the division, with a game against league leaders Frogmore to come at the weekend.
Bovingdon secured promotion for a third successive year on Saturday by beating Baldock II in emphatic style in Saturday’s home fixture in Division 7B.
The hosts won the toss and opted to bat first on a good looking pitch, but did not get off to the best of starts as they found themselves at 40-2 after 11 overs. Jack Blackburn was unfortunately run out and Ian Arnold got a fine edge through to the keeper.
Wickets dried up for the next 17 overs as Nick Baxter (80) and Michael Buttleman (32) put on 100 for the third wicket at a good rate to get Bovingdon towards a strong first innings total.
Several good cameo innings from the lower middle order, including last week’s hero Tom Cowley (36), saw Bovingdon post a total of 272 all out – the final wicket falling in the 50th over.
Bovingdon knew that taking seven wickets in the second innings would be enough to see them mathematically guarantee promotion through bonus points, and they didn’t have to wait long to get there.
Four wickets fell inside the first 10 overs with less than 20 runs on the board and wickets continued to tumble throughout the innings as Baldock were eventually bowled out for 55 in the 28th over.
Baxter returned figures of 2-10, with the rest of the wickets shared between Matt Boyd, Tony Shand and Sean Gatehouse.
The victory margin of 217 runs is the largest that Bovingdon have recorded since joining the Herts League in 2009, and the promotion is their fourth in the last six seasons.
Bovingdon travel to Stevenage on Saturday and then host league leaders Old Owens in their last two fixtures – two more victories gives them a great chance of winning the league.
> Leverstock Green
Leverstock Green will face Abbots Langley in the Readers County Trophy final at Hemel Hempstead Town CC’s Heath Park ground on Sunday, September 6, with a noon start.
After beating Old Owens in round two following a first round walkover against London Colney, Green’s Sunday stars won two thrillers in the last-eight and last-four ties.
The first win came at the quarter-final stage when club legend Dave Tyson led home an unlikely chase versus Kings Langley and then Levy beat Shenley Village in the semi-final – a 40-run victory the toast of The Green’s large band of supporters.
Abbots Langley also saw off higher-division opposition in the last four, beating Botany Bay, to set up what’s sure to be a keenly-contested 50-over cup final.
With the climax to LGCC’s promotion chase in Division 2A happening the day beforehand, it’s set to be quite a weekend of cricket for The Green as the season comes to a close in early September.
Meanwhile, Leverstock Green CC has confirmed that its ECB Clubmark status has been re-accredited for a further three years.
Much of this is down to the work and diligence of club welfare officer Tony Williams and director of junior cricket Brad Klosterman.
The club owes a debt of gratitude to all those involved in earning the re-accreditation, which has formed and will form a vital pillar in the club’s development in its past and into the future.
In acknowledging the contribution of Williams in particular, club president Brian Coulshed said: “Clubmark status has underpinned the developments made over the last few years.
“The club owes Tony a great debt of gratitude for the critical contribution that he makes in this and other important areas of LGCC’s activities.”
Berkhamsted I secured promotion from Herts Saracens League Division 4A with a comfortable six-wicket win over third placed Stevenage II on Saturday.
However the job is only half done, as Berko remain only 16 points clear of second placed Chorleywood whom they play on the last day of the season – a win would enable a two-division promotion.
Losing the toss against Stevenage, Berkhamsted bowled well with a lot of control, keeping the run rate down.
Undoubtedly the pick of the bowlers was Josh Roberts with 5-25, including a triple-wicket maiden, to restrict Stevenage to just 150-9 off their 50 overs.
Despite the loss of an early wicket, Berkhamsted chased down the total well with few alarms to win by six wickets, with Gareth Preedy top scoring with 57.
Elsewhere, Berkhamsted II won a low scoring match at home to Northwood Town II.
Batting first, Berko struggled to get going, with most batsmen getting starts then getting out – Ian Putman top scored with 39 as Berko posted 180 all out.
Fortunately Berko performed well with the ball, regularly taking wickets, and despite a defiant last wicket stand they ran out winners by 25 runs, with Mark Lewarne taking 3-22.