Worlington beat Woolpit in top-of-the-table clash

Jimmy Watson, who scored 102 not out in Worlington's big win over Woolpit. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Jimmy Watson, who scored 102 not out in Worlington's big win over Woolpit. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

Worlington recorded a big victory over Woolpit in the top-of-the-table clash in Division One of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship on Saturday.

Craig Estlea, who scored 66 for Worlington in their key victory over his former club, Woolpit. Pictu

Craig Estlea, who scored 66 for Worlington in their key victory over his former club, Woolpit. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

The two sides came into this encounter with 21 points separating them – leaders Worlington had the edge with 11 wins from their first 14 matches, as opposed to Woolpit’s 10 victories.

And it was Worlington who came out on top, triumphing by 144 runs to stretch their lead over their Suffolk rivals to 36 points.

In fact, Halstead have now nipped above Woolpit into second following their narrow victory over Coggeshall, to be 33 points behind the leaders.

Worlington are top with 264 points, followed by Halstead (231) and Woolpit (228), with seven matches remaining.

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Worlington captain, Craig Estlea, won the toss and elected to bat first, and his side responded by posting a formidable total of 295 for four off their 50 overs.

A superb unbeaten century from Jimmy Watson was the backbone of the innings, after the opening pair of Ziaf Kulasi (52) and Graham Ford (23) had put on 61 for the first wicket.

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Watson and skipper Estlea then took over in a stand of 113 for the third wicket. Wicketkeeper Watson scored his 102 not out off 101 balls, with 15 boundaries, while a hard-hitting Estlea plundered two sixes and eight fours in his rapid knock of 66.

Mark Nunn also hit a six in his quickfire 26 to boost Worlington’s final total, and in reply the home side lost wickets at regular intervals, which impeded their chances of at least launching a run-chase.

In fact, no Woolpit batsman reached 30 as they were skittled out for 151 in 38.1 overs, skipper Will Parker top-scoring with 27 at the top of the innings.

There were three wickets apiece for Nuwan Jayasena (8-0-32-3) and Lee Thompson (3.1-0-16-3), and two run outs, including that of overseas player Corey Polyak, who was run out by Kulasi for 18 to peg back the hosts to 75 for three. The last eight wickets fell for the addition of just 76 runs.

Worlington’s acting skipper, Estlea, in the absence of the injured Richard Ford, enthused: “We did really well. Woolpit is always a nice place to play cricket, and it was a good batting wicket, so I was always going to bat after winning the toss.

“Jimmy (Watson) has been fantastic all season for us. He batted sensationally for his century, at virtually a run-a-ball, and it was good to share a good partnership with him. When I got out, Jimmy just kept going to get us up to a big total.

“With Andy Northcote not playing for Woolpit, that gave our bowlers a big boost. We bowled really well, and getting out their two openers, Will Parker and Oliver Whiteman, was key because they are their main run-scorers.

“The win puts us 33 points ahead at the top, which means we can even afford a bad day at the office and lose a match, and still be ahead.

“There are seven games left, and hopefully we should win at least five of them.

“We have a couple of particularly tricky matches. We still have to play Halstead, who are strong, and also Hadleigh, who always seem to give us a hard game. But we are in pole position, and it would be a terrific achievement for the club to win the title,” added Estlea, who spent several years at Woolpit before his switch to Worlington last year.

Meanwhile, Halstead moved into second spot by beating Coggeshall Town by just 12 runs at Star Stile.

Put into bat, Halstead accrued a big total of 277 for nine off 50 overs, thanks to four half-centuries – Josh Ruthven (52), Joshua Wells (51), Craig Spooner (56) and Josh King (65) all scored heavily. after the home side had initially slipped to 15 for two.

In reply, Charlie Green (73) and Jimmy Rees (46) added 80 for the sixth wicket, after 44 from George Hanham, to take Coggeshall up to 208 for six, and skipper George Blackwell added 30 off just 14 balls at No. 9.

But Coggeshall were eventually bowled out for 265, with five balls remaining, to fall short by 12 runs.

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