Worlington captain Richard Ford targets top three finish after latest win over Braintree
- Credit: Archant
Worlington recorded their fourth win from five fixtures, at the expense of bottom club Braintree, to keep pace with the early leaders in Division One of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship on Saturday.
The trio of Wivenhoe, Elmstead and Worlington have all won four of their first five matches, although Worlington currently sit in third spot from points accrued – and captain Richard Ford wants them to consolidate that top-three berth for the rest of the summer.
Braintree always faced a tough task to defend a total of 181 for seven, off their 50 overs, after being put into bat by home skipper Ford.
Four players progressed into the 30s, but were unable to go on and make a big score, Barry Stephens top-scoring with 38 in the middle order. Stephens and No. 8 Geoff Eveling put on 56 for the seventh wicket, the biggest partnership of the innings.
An opening stand of 46 between brothers Graham Ford (21) and Richard Ford (64) gave Worlington a good platform in their reply, although the game was in the balance when the latter was caught by Dan Chalk off the bowling of Louis Cant, the score on 114 for four. Cant took three for 41 off his 10 overs.
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However, former Woolpit captain Craig Estlea (46) and Daren Hayward (37 not out) added 53 for the fifth wicket to guide Worlington close to victory, which they duly achieved for the loss of just five wickets, with 6.4 overs to spare.
“Our goal is to finish in the top three,” confirmed Worlington captain Richard Ford.
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“I think we have a good chance this season, and to be honest we should really have won all five of our matches so far, losing the other one at home to Wivenhoe.
“We bowled well against Braintree, and we should really have got them all out a little earlier. But we got off to a good start in our reply, and we always had wickets in hand.
“Craig (Estlea) came in and batted well. He’s been a great signing for us, from Woolpit.
“Craig had had enough of playing Premier League cricket. He just wanted to enjoy his cricket again, and he’s doing that with us. He can bat, bowl and field, and his experience has been invaluable,” added Ford.
Meanwhile, leaders Wivenhoe were comfortable winners at Hadleigh, by 71 runs.
Last year’s runners-up, to champions Mildenhall, in-form Wivenhoe were again indebted to a good knock from Matt Durrell at the top of the innings as the visitors reached a total of 224 for eight off their 40 overs.
Durrell (80) shared an opening stand of 104 with Jordan Nicholls (55), and then weighed in with figures of 7-1-14-1 as Hadleigh were dismissed for 153 in the 46th over. Harry Burnett was the most successful Wivenhoe bowler, with four for 22, while middle order batsman Thomas Piddington top-scored for the hosts with 38.
Second-placed Elmstead recorded an emphatic win at Woolpit, relegated from the East Anglian Premier League last summer, by 126 runs.
Elmstead captain Aidan O’Brien’s decision to bat first was soon vindicated, not least by a wonderful century from Jacob McNaught at No. 3.
McNaught hit two sixes and 11 fours in his 101, sharing an 83-run stand for the second wicket with O’Brien (28) and then 95 for the third wicket with wicketkeeper Ryan Vickery (53).
McNaught and the hard-hitting Dan White (69) went on to add a further 92 runs for the fourth wicket, as Elmstead finished on an imposing total of 325 for nine off their 50 overs.
Nathan Crudeli did take five for 37, off his 10 overs, the one bright spark for Woolpit in the field, but despite 62 from skipper Will Parker at the top of the innings, the home side never threatened a successful run-chase. They were bowled out for 199 in the last over, White and Ady Garnham both taking three wickets.
There was a low-scoring game at fourth-placed Maldon, where the hosts reduced visiting Halstead to 96 all out to win by 71 runs.
All-rounders Alex Baldwin and Ian Elliott were the main contributors, with bat and ball. Baldwin scored a run-a-ball 48 and Elliott made 45 in Maldon’s 167 all out, although the home side did lose their last six wickets for just 24 runs, Charlie Douglas-Hughes doing the damage with figures of 4.5-1-17-5.
But Halstead suffered an even bigger collapse, nose-diving from an encouraging 80 for three to 96 all out. Baldwin took four for 25 off his 10 overs, while there were two wickets apiece for Elliott and Michael Foster (he only bowled three balls!)