Leaders Worlington win again, but Woolpit suffer another defeat
- Credit: Archant
Worlington took a step nearer to winning the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Division One title, following a hard-earned win over Wivenhoe by 13 runs on Saturday.
It was Worlington’s 13th victory of the summer, from 17 starts, giving them a handy lead of 40 points over nearest challengers Halstead, who were comfortable seven-wicket victors at home to Frinton 2nds.
By contrast, Woolpit’s title challenge has been derailed by three defeats on the spin, the latest a six-wicket loss away at Witham. The Rectory Lane club are now a distant 59 points adrift of pace-setters Worlington, with just five matches remaining.
Having lost the toss and been inserted into bat, Worlington were bowled out for 262 with two balls left of their innings, to set a challenging total for mid-table Wivenhoe. Experienced opener Graham Ford (0) went early on, but skipper Ziaf Kulasi and wicketkeeper James Watson then added 87 for the second wicket, Watson plundering 59 off just 61 balls with 13 boundaries.
Kulasi went on to add a further 75 with Ashan Athurkoralage for the third wicket, before his run-a-ball knock of 86 came to an end. He was bowled by James Butcher, having struck a mighty nine sixes.
Athurkoralage also went on to make a half-century, ensuring that Worlington’s innings did not fold too quickly. In fact, in the context of the whole match, a 45-run stand with Nuwan Jayasena (28 off 19 balls) for the ninth wicket was to prove crucial, nudging the total to just above 260. Athurkoralage was the ninth wicket to fall, having made a watchful 51.
Wivenhoe were soon struggling in their reply, slipping to 28 for two after Charlie Tunstall had removed both Jordan Nicholls and Tom Durrell cheaply.
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A 95-run stand for the second wicket brought the Essex visitors back into the game, overseas player Brendon Louw hitting 50 off just 40 balls, with nine fours, and opener Matt Durrell making 68 with a couple of sixes.
The match continued to swing in either direction. Having lost their first five wickets for 144, still 119 runs short of victory, James Butcher (44) and skipper Harry Burnett (23) added 60 for the sixth wicket to keep it interesting.
When Butcher was trapped lbw by Athurkoralage, it looked all over for Wivenhoe at 211 for eight, but Joseph Nicholls (27) and Liam Holyman (11) did put up a late fight before the innings ended with four balls left, the visitors dismissed for 249. Five bowlers – Tunstall, Mark Nunn, Athurkoralage, Jayasena and Lee Thompson – all took two wickets
Out-of-sorts Woolpit, meanwhile, were well beaten by six wickets at Witham, having also lost to Worlington and Wivenhoe in the previous two weekends.
Some tight bowling restricted Woolpit to a total of 201 for six off their 50 overs, despite a dogged 61 from opener Will Parker, accrued off 108 balls.
The visitors slipped to 145 for five, until Ryan Newcombe (52 not out) and Harry Bureau (31) applied a little more urgency with an additional 56 runs during the final few overs.
Shaun Bragg’s 10 overs went for just 21, while skipper Jake Wakelin returned figures of 10-3-34-2, and Leroy Facey an equally impressive 10-0-35-2.
Woolpit fancied their chances when reducing their hosts to 47 for three, thanks to a couple of wickets from Stuart Lilley, but the match was taken away from them by a superb partnership of 139 runs for the fourth wicket.
James Smith struck a couple of sixes in his excellent 72, off 101 balls, while a more aggressive Cody McDonald hit 88 off 72 balls with 15 fours and a six to guarantee victory, with 11 overs to spare.
Witham are now just two points behind third-placed Woolpit, both sides having won 10 matches.
Meanwhile, Joshua Wells starred with the bat as second-placed Halstead won at home to Frinton 2nds. Josh King took three for 34 as the visitors finished on 175 for eight off their 45 overs, skipper Sam Brynes top-scoring with 40.
Halstead were under the cosh at 78 for three, but an unbroken stand of 101 between Wells (93no) and Harry Pritchard (27no) saw the hosts to victory with seven wickets and 3.2 overs in hand.