|Date||8 July 2017|
|Venue||Brentwood Cricket Club|
|Result||W (Brentwood 232-7, Harlow 76)|
Brentwood 232-7, Harlow 76
Brentwood won by 156 runs
On an all-conquering day for the club’s six sides, it was the third team who were first back in the bar after making short work of Harlow’s batting line-up.
Victory completed the clean sweep of Premier Division rivals at the halfway point of the season. Nine wins from nine, 200 points, a 66-point lead, eight opposition teams bowled out, only one score of 200-plus posted against them – it really could have gone no better in Ryan Pocock’s debut season as captain and the sooner he is appointed Prime Minister the better.
The story of this latest trouncing centres on the contribution of Keerat Pabla with the bat, and the performance of the bowlers and fielders as a unit.
Pabla, making his third-team debut after becoming the latest victim of the cut-throat second-team selection panel, came to the wicket with Brentwood at a not wholly comfortable 118 for six from 32 overs.
After a watchful start, he gradually eased into the mood, playing a few fluent drives with a long back lift and easy grace. Along with Jack Payne – for the second week, showing vital middle-order resistance – Pabla gave Brentwood hope of creeping up to the psychologically important 200.
Those ambitions were dramatically raised in the 38th over when Pabla launched a vicious assault on the unfortunate young bowler Tyler Dobson. Four times he pummelled the ball over the boundary at midwicket/long on. There was also a comical drop when a top edge flew up, the wicketkeeper ran back, set himself for the catch, only to carefully watch the ball miss his gloves completely. The batsmen ran a two, which, with a dot ball in there somewhere, meant the over had harvested 26 runs and shifted the momentum of the game. Dobson, who had previously bowled eight decent overs, retired with figures of one for 82 from nine.
Payne was eventually caught in the deep for 29 after a 90-run stand, and Pabla played a few more punishing shots before walking off unbeaten on 72 from what must have been no more than 45 deliveries.
Conceding a total of 232 represented a crushing blow for Harlow who had generally bowled well and could have been in a commanding position if not having fielded so woefully. By a conservative estimate, they put down six catches and by the end of a gruelling stint in the dirt their ground fielding had become ragged in the extreme.
Earlier in the afternoon, Richard Walford had fallen cheaply before George Bull and Nigel Bacon built a solid platform, taking Brentwood to 90 for one at drinks. Bull fell to the first ball after the break, Bacon holed out in the deep (cursing his borrowed bat), Mick Davis was bowled off his pads, Luke Brailey was bowled yahooing across the line and Pocock was trapped lbw.
It was a nervous time for Brentwood, although at 118 for six little did they know that they already had enough runs to have won quite comfortably.
The Brentwood attack was opened by Pabla, a pleasant young visitor to these shores who is in danger of giving Australians a good name. The overseas signing made an instant impact, having one opener well caught low down at slip by Walford in his first over, then clean bowling the other in his next.
Peter Bainbridge began his spell from the other end like the stiff old man that he is but, watched by the legendary Trevor Coote (kids, ask your dads) from the boundary edge, raised his game to claim three wickets, one from a ‘bouncer’ that can only be described as a surprise delivery as it surprised the bowler as well as everyone else.
At 40 for five, the writing was on the wall and the end was not long in coming as Harlow seemingly had an important function to attend and adopted a gung-ho policy. George Wingrove castigated himself in inimitable fashion after a loose first over of off-spin but came roaring back, producing a flighted beauty to bowl one bemused batsman and then taking a return catch off the next delivery.
The hat-trick ball was kept out but there was no relenting in the pressure as Dave Balroop claimed two wickets at the other end, one off a fierce drive that was well held by a perfectly positioned Brailey at cover.
The honour of sewing up the victory fell to Wingrove when opposition captain Dave Whellams hit the ball straight to mid-off where Bull took his third catch of the innings. The innings had lasted just 19.4 overs and, in stark contrast to Harlow's fielding, every catch bar one difficult early chance had been taken.
In the bar by 5.50pm to watch the first team cruise to victory, then hanging around outside on a warm evening to welcome back the other four sides from various corners of the county as the mood grew ever-more jubilant in a garden-party atmosphere: all in all, it is not a bad time to be a Brentwood cricketer, and in particular a third-team player.
Report by Peter Bainbridge
Deputy Chief Production Journalist
|Name||Squad number||Position||Runs||Dismissed||Wickets||Overs bowled||Runs conceded|