We are approaching the business end of the season. There were just four league games to go heading into last Saturdays 1st vs 3rd clash against title rivals Datchworth IIIs. Both sides faltered the previous week, allowing Old Haberdashers to gain ground but it really is any two from four for promotion with very few points separating the top four, including Potters Bar. MHV IIIs hold the upper hand, being top by a very tight margin, so four wins in a row will secure the divisional title. It seems destined to go down to the match on the final day of the league season between Old Habs IIs and MHV IIIs.
This week looked like a tough away assignment and when the home side won the toss and reached 88 for 0, the prospect of a low points loss was very much on the cards. From that point however, it was really all about the Village, as the bowlers, fielders and finally the batsmen began to take complete control.
It was somewhat of a surprise to be asked to bowl first after heavy overnight rain but this was a covered wicket and one of the very best around at this level. It was dry, hard and bouncy, a really good cricket wicket, with enough in it for bowlers and batsmen. The Village opening pair of Tommy Smith (1-17) and Karan Gupta (0-21) bowled excellent opening spells, limiting the Datchworth openers to very few scoring opportunities and at 33 after 14 overs both batsmen then gave chances, both of which were spilled. As the run rate accelerated and wickets were not forthcoming it looked like it could be costly. However, the tide eventually turned and the home side then lost 9 wickets for just 42 runs in the final 15 overs of the innings. Joe Sheridan (3-21), Matt Hawkes (2-18) and Pryank Patel (1-34) all bowled well and two run outs were thrown in for good measure. It was clear that the slow and cautious start by the openers was intentional, in the knowledge that there wasn’t much fire power to follow.
The Village reply started shakily with a wicket in the first over. But the 80 run 2nd wicket stand between Karan Chand (47) and Phil Smith (42*), more or less secured the 30 points. A few more wickets were frittered away towards the back end but a 6 wicket win with over 8 overs to spare represented a pretty comfortable victory.
Datchworth were a really welcoming club and it is a lovely place to play. It felt like a throwback to years gone by when both sides had a beer and a chat in the bar after the game. Sadly, an all too infrequent occurrence these days. They also have an excellent thriving Colts section and keep their four XIs going by playing many of them. It is a model to admire and we wish them well.