Woolpit taste fine victory on opening day of the new Two Counties Championship season
Woolpit began life back in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship with a hard-fought victory over Witham, at Rectory Lane on Saturday.
Relegated from the East Anglian Premier League, on the final day of last season, Woolpit showed their intent for the new campaign by seeing off the challenge of a strong Witham side who had finished third behind Mildenhall and Wivenhoe last term.
Australian Nathan Crudeli was the star of the show, with bat and ball, as Woolpit secured victory by 24 runs.
Home skipper Will Parker won the toss and elected to bat, and his team rallied from a poor start to make 225 for nine off their allotted 50 overs.
At one stage, Woolpit were staring down the barrel at 32 for four, with Witham’s attack of Matt McKendry and Matt Anderson striking with two wickets apiece.
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However, Crudeli and James Holmes (37) put on 64 for the fifth wicket, and all-rounder Crudeli, from Western Australia, also found useful support from the lower middle-order of Karl Holmes (13), Alex Jackson (29) and John Steel (19).
Crudeli was eventually the eighth wicket to fall with the score on 196, having struck 86 off 90 deliveries, including 10 boundaries and three sixes.
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Anderson ended with impressive figures of 10-5-11-2, while McKendry took four wickets at a cost of 48 for his 10 overs.
Witham, who won 13 of their 22 matches last season, began on the front foot, despite the early loss of skipper Jake Wakelin, who was caught by wicketkeeper Holmes off Crudeli for 12. Wakelin only faced four balls, striking the first three for boundaries before his quick departure.
Michael Godwin and Michael Glynn navigated Witham into a winning position, with a 93-run stand for the second wicket, before Glynn was caught-and-bowled by Chris Wells for a patient 37 off 97 balls. The visitors then lost wickets at regular intervals, including that of opener Godwin, who had advanced to 81 (with 11 boundaries) until he was caught by Crudeli off Hamish Fiddes.
Godwin was one of four wickets to fall for the addition of just six runs, with Witham slumping from 162 for three to 168 for seven in the pursuit of quick runs.
Jack Sambrook was left unbeaten on 23 at the close as Witham finished their 50 overs on 201 for eight, Crudeli finishing with figures of 10-3-38-3.
Elsewhere in Division One, Hadleigh recorded a three-wicket win over Haverhill in a high-scoring affair, even though the visitors lost just three wickets in reaching 250 off their 50 overs.
Openers Josh Ruthven (68) and Anthony Phillips (52) gave Haverhill a good start, which was built on by Chris Palmer (52) and captain Adam Dellar (43 not out). Kyle Tanner took two for 45, while Ben Wallis put the brakes on the visiting batsmen by bowling his 10 overs for just 27 runs.
And Hadleigh reached their target with three wickets and seven balls in hand, again bolstered by a good start from their opening pair of Brock Price (79) and Marlon Dias (49), before late efforts from Thomas Piddington (48) and skipper Wallis (22no) effectively saw the Friars Road club to victory.
There was another high-scoring match at Worlington, against visiting Frinton 2nd XI, with both sides featuring century-makers.
Tom Osborn struck four sixes in his innings of 107, batting at No. 3, as Worlington powered to 245 for eight off their 50 overs.
The Suffolk side were struggling on 106 for four, until Osborn and Daren Hayward (52) added 87 runs for the fifth wicket. Sam Brynes took three for 46.
John Hambrook, batting at No. 3, came close to guiding Frinton to victory, but they eventually fell 19 runs short on 226 for five.
Hambrook was 108 not out at the close of the innings, after skipper Brynes had made 36 at No. 4.
There were excellent 10-over spells from Charlie Tunstall (two for 26) and Steven Flack (0 for 26), which really turned the game in Worlington’s favour.
Wivenhoe, second to Mildenhall last season, were edged out by just three runs in an exciting game at Braintree. The hosts were bowled out for 227, in 49 overs, boosted by almost a-run-a-ball 85 from Daniel Chalk, who smashed five sixes.
Chalk put on 41 for the third wicket with Louis Cant (34), before sharing a match-winning stand of 95 with Rory Ainsley (37) for the seventh wicket, boosting the total from 106 for six up to 201.
There were three wickets each for the trio of Joseph Nicholls, Harry Burnett and James Butcher, but Wivenhoe faltered after a 52-run stand for the second wicket between Matt Durrell and Liam Hope-Shackley (58).
Despite late cameos by Nicholls (38), Burnett (41) and Louis Homewood (27no), Wivenhoe fell three runs short. Cant (10-2-20-3) and William Jackson (10-5-27-2) both impressed.