Match Report Brightlingsea v Maldon 4th
Brightlingsea Cricket Club have won Division 9i of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Cricket Championship, after securing the 6 points needed in the final game of the
Travelling away on a 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 6 points 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 8 overs for 23 runs and 2 wickets - a superb 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 1 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 9 overs for 35 runs and, more importantly, an additional 3 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 4 precious points on the day. Byron finished with 5 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.
So the stage was set for Brightlingsea to first, secure the points required and then try to go on and defeat the much strengthened Maldon team. Their first target was to reach 115 runs to secure the further 2 points required to ensure championship victory.
Things didn’t start according to plan when, unfortunately, opening batter Giles Scrutton lost his wicket; 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 able to express himself and was quickly at 26 runs, with some fabulous stroke play and 4 fours. Sadly, Tom was unable to build on his strong foundation and it was up to batter number four, Rowan Hunt, to take the stage.
But at 53-2 the foundation for those vital 115 runs had been set.
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’s innings of 13 was cut short when he was out, caught behind. Rowan’s wicket falling at 80-4 meant 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 5 and 6 respectively, leaving the team at 94-6 a tantalising 21 runs away from their objective. With only 4 batters left.
With the Maldon 4th team eating into the Brightlingsea batting line up, and their ‘Division 9’ bowlers having a blinding day, two men stood firm: Morgan Hatch with an attritional innings of 7 from 49 balls frustrating their attack and Alfie English, taking a defensive stance, going against his natural style of play.
The pair patiently and sensibly batted their way towards the total needed to secure Championship victory.
And at 5:23pm on the 30th August 2021 Morgan Hatch hit a single against Maldon 4th XI to secure the runs required to gain the points necessary to see Brightlingsea Cricket Club become the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Division 9i Champions 2021!!
With the pressure off Alfie returned to his normal game, scything his way through the Maldon bowling attack for 26 before falling. Morgan’s wicket, too, fell shortly after. But their hard work, and the hard work of the team had paid off. The job was done.
Brightlingsea Cricket club, in their first season back in Saturday League Cricket had won the League on their first attempt. A real team performance across the whole season finished off with the performance of the year.