Worlington win Two Counties Championship title with two games to spare
- Credit: Archant
Worlington have been crowned Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division One champions, following a convincing victory at home to Coggeshall by 107 runs on Saturday.
Having led the division for much of the summer, Worlington clinched the crown with two matches to spare, having opened up an unassailable lead of 46 points over nearest rivals Witham – only a total of 40 points can be amassed with two wins.
Worlington suffered only their second defeat of the season the previous weekend, at the hands of Witham, but they bounced back to rattle up a 15th win from 20 fixtures to seal the championship.
As a result, Worlington will now go into the play-offs, along with the two champions from the Cambs & Hunts Premier League and the Norfolk Alliance, plus the club finishing bottom of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian League, over a semi-final and final format.
The winners of the final will be in the EAPL next season.
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Put into bat by Coggsehall, the hosts amassed 255 all out, boosted by a typically brisk 77 from captain Ziaf Kulasi.
The hard-hitting Kulasi shared an opening stand of 53 with Graham Ford (27), before putting on 46 for the second wicket with wicketkeeper Jimmy Watson (19) and then a further 55 for the third wicket with Craig Estlea (27).
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The total was on 154 when Kulasi became one of William Blackwell’s three victims. He had struck five sixes and eight fours in his 60-ball knock of 77.
All-rounder Mark Nunn ensured a big total by contributing 47 at No. 5, while there were three wickets each for George Blackwell, William Blackwell (10-2-22-3) and Josh Morton.
Coggeshall were never really in the hunt during their reply, subsiding to 148 all out with no batsman advancing past 30.
Charlie Tunstall made the initial breakthrough by dismissing opener Edward King (20) on his way to figures of 10-1-52-3, while Ashan Athurkoralage removed danger-man Robert Jagger (15) shortly afterwards.
Elsewhere in Division One, second-placed Witham defeated Halstead, who had begun the day in third spot, by seven wickets.
Halstead were skittled out for just 109 in 31.4 overs, with Shaun Bragg (6-0-18-3) dismissing the top three and captain Jake Wakelin claiming three for 37 off his 10 overs, supported by Greg Stephens (10-3-22-2).
Witham lost both their openers cheaply, but James Smith (49) and James Suett (42 not out) shared a match-winning partnership for the third wicket to see the hosts home off just 26.4 overs.
Woolpit are back up to third, and nine points behind second-placed Witham, following a 56-run win at home to Ipswich in the Suffolk derby.
Woolpit captain, Will Parker, won the toss and elected to bat first, and he proceeded to put on 126 for the first wicket with James Deeley to take a grip of the match.
Parker made 52, and Deeley went on to accumulate 92 off 95 balls until he was run out. Useful contributions from Corey Polyak (35) and Tom Whiteman (57 not out) saw Woolpit finish their innings on 279 for five.
Ipswich were soon struggling on 50 for four, and then 129 for seven, although Karthik Madavan’s unbeaten 62 at No. 8 did bring some respectability to the score.
Ipswich were eventually bowled out for 223 in the 47th over, Stuart Lilley claiming three for 35.
Although defending champions Elmstead are marooned at the bottom, cast adrift by 39 points, only 17 points separate the four teams above them, which include Ipswich. Second-from-bottom Hadleigh celebrated only their fifth win of the summer, seeing off lowly Elmstead by just 11 runs at Vicarage Meadow.
Put into bat, Hadleigh were dismissed for 227 in the final over, indebted to a 103-run partnership for the third wicket between Josh Davey (80) and Chris Gange (49).
Elmstead were looking good themselves, thanks to their own big third wicket stand of 114 between Michael Cursons (94no) and Ryan Vickery (38), but they then collapsed to 216 all out. They lost their last eight wickets for just 58 runs, undone by some fine bowling from Thomas Piddington, who recorded figures of 8.3-1-32-6.