Holmesdale’s winning streak continues at Upchurch 

Kent Cricket League Division One 1st: Upchurch (176 all out) lost to Holmesdale (263 all out)

Credit: Holmesdale Cricket Club

Holmesdale 1st XI completed their seventh successive win and eight successive game unbeaten as they travelled to Upchurch on Saturday. The side went into the fixture in second place, looking to increase the pressure on first place side Bromley. 

The day started in much the way Holmesdale had wished for with skipper, Luke Blackaby, winning the toss and electing to bat on a used wicket that looked as if it would become far more challenging to bat on as the day progressed. Holmesdale started excellently, with Dom May (45) taking the Upchurch attack to all parts of the ground, hitting the leagues leading wicket taker Adeel Hussain for a very large six back over his head and over the road. With the score reaching 40 after just 5 overs, Upchurch made a change and brought on the spinners early to see if they could tame the powerful hitting of May. Whilst May managed the spin nicely, both Brabham and Epps fell in quick succession, leaving Holmesdale 43-2.

Blackaby came to the crease and looked comfortable as both him and May knocked the ball around nicely, keeping the scoreboard ticking over. However, a slight lapse in concentration from May left him caught at deep square leg and the in-form man, Nick Miller, strutted out to the crease. Holmesdale’s main men continued to keep the scoreboard moving along and both looked comfortable against the Upchurch attack. Blackaby (29) then fell shortly after drinks giving the Holmesdale middle order a chance to show their worth. Rupert Harbig (48), provided Miller (49) with excellent support, and the pair put on a partnership of 71. Harbig batted with excellent patience and found an excellent balance between his attacking and defensive approach to his innings. Bissett (20), Gallagher (22) and Hulston (9) provided some very handy runs at the end of the innings leading Holmesdale to a score of 263 off their 50 overs.

Holmesdale knew they needed to be tight in the field and ensure that the already high required run rate of just over 5 an over continued to rise. Both Blackaby (2/11) and young Tom Masding (0/18) ensured that this was the case with the pair opening up very well, hitting excellent areas consistently in their opening spells and Blackaby picking up two wickets in two balls. With a bowling line-up as strong as that of Holmesdale, there is typically very little release for the batting-side and this was once again the case for the Upchurch batsmen. First change bowlers Jack Hulston (1/11) and Dom May (0/32) continued to ensure that the pressure was very much on the batsmen and the run rate began to climb up to 7 and 8 an over. Hulston picked up a very important wicket to ensure that the 41 run partnership that had developed was broken and once again putting a halt to any recovery from Upchurch. However, this wicket brought in the Upchurch captain, David Masters, ex-Kent and Essex professional, meaning the game was still very much in the balance. Blackaby turned to Harbig, Bissett and Gallagher to carry the Holmesdale boys home. The three of them bowled excellently with Harbig creating numerous chances and bowling in troubling areas. Gallagher came on and continued in much the way as he had at Linden Park, using his cutter to great effect and ran through the Upchurch batting line-up ending up with career best figures of 6-41. Bissett then finished off the show excellently picking up the final wicket, caught in the deep by Mark Epps. 

Once again, Holmesdale put together an exceptional team performance with many chipping in with both bat and ball and proving once again that they are the strongest fielding side in the league. Next week Holmesdale are back at Montreal Park against St Lawerence & Highland Court as they continue to push for that top spot in the league.

Kent Cricket League Premier 2nd Division: Holmesdale 2nd (248-8) lost to Sandwich Town 2nd (252-7)
Holmesdale 2nd XI welcomed Sandwich Town to Montreal Park on Saturday. After a week out from poor weather, both sides were keen to get a good game in – and they certainly got that!

Sandwich won the toss and put Holmesdale into bat. The young, and resilient opening duo of Marr-Johnson (11) and Kovoor (13) fended-off the first 10 overs of Sandwich’s attack, before Marr-Johnson was bowled by Evans (2-38). Fellow teenager Hart (25) joined Kovoor and they ticked the score over before Kovoor fell to Evans also, this time being caught. Holmesdale’s dangerous number 4 (Mike Brown) strode to the crease, however unfortunately feathered his first ball to the keeper. Sandwich all of a sudden became interested as the score was 37-3. Hart, now joined by Roffey, batted maturely, and looked comfortable. Together their partnership of 59 eased the home side’s nerves, until Hart was bowled by Thurgate (1-38). Roffey and club legend Melbourn, set about their business taking on the bowlers in the middle overs. Unfortunately Melbourn was the first victim to fall to the Sandwich skipper (Rowcroft), being bowled for 14. In what proved to be a good spell for the away side, Rowcroft bowling full and straight then took Holliday’s wicket just two balls later.

Then Alex McCann stepped to the crease, and wasted no time hitting his first ball for 4 past the bowler. Roffey fell two overs later to Rowcroft for 64. Lovelock batting at 9, did what he does best and absorbed pressure well, soaking-up some challenging overs before Rowcroft took his fourth wicket (4-32). This brought the intimidating figure of Grove to the crease. The score was 141-8.

The stage was now set, and the fireworks were about to be lit. Just as Sandwich thought they’d be chasing a low total, McCann wearing the club emblem with pride, upped the anti and jumped-up several gears. The man unleashed a barrage of huge blows to the away team’s bowling attack. Boundaries were a-plenty, and each one was bigger than the previous. Cricket balls were showering onto the neighbouring bowls green. Drivers on the A25 were bemused as balls sailed over the road like comets burning through the atmosphere.

Grove at the other end supported well giving McCann more strike to take the opposition apart. Together they put on a partnership of 107. Grove finished not out on 17, and McCann reaching his 88 not out in just 34 balls, including seven 4s and eight 6s.

The home side finished on 248 off their 50 overs.

With momentum in their favour, Holmesdale’s opening bowler, Holliday (1-54), wasted no time, up-rooting the stumps of Sandwich’s opener Leavey in his first over. Together Holliday and Grove bowled tight areas. The run rate was fairly slow from the away side.

However Thurgate (78) and Hills (63) took responsibility and demonstrated what a well-constructed partnership should look like. They gradually went through the gears, taking opportune singles and punishing the bad balls from the home side’s attack. By the end, they were both taking the game to the tiring Holmesdale bowlers with calculated risks hitting boundaries freely – a great exhibition on how to construct an innings.

Holmesdale couldn’t bowl enough dot balls to create pressure, though Lovelock’s (1-42) finger spin wasn’t easy to face, and pick-of-the-bowlers Joe Hart (2-36) bowled incredibly well down the hill. With a flurry of wickets late in the innings from Lovelock, Hart, Roffey and Grove, there were nerves in the away dressing-room. But with a couple of big overs from Sandwich number 8, Liam Evans, the momentum swung back in favour of the away side. Grove having bowled 9 overs for just 27, was then targeted by Evans, and in his 10th over (the penultimate over of the game) went for 24 bringing the away side over the line with an over and 3 wickets to spare. Evans finished on 45 not out.

“Another tremendously exciting game to be involved in,” says Holmesdale’s captain David Roffey. “Whilst disappointing to have fallen on the losing side of some close games – as a club we are pleased that our young guys are getting exposure to this good standard of cricket, and are learning what good individual performances look like, and what they require. Everyone is making vital contributions – so I am excited, and very confident in the future of this group.”

Despite losing, Holmesdale climb one place in the table, ahead of Lordswood, due to the 7 bonus points earned from this result (4 batting points and 3 bowling points).

Kent Regional Cricket League 1C Met/West: Catford and Cyphers 4th (159-7) lost to Holmesdale 3rd (163-3)
On a sultry and overcast afternoon in deepest south east London a depleted 3’s took on Catford and Cypher’s 4th XI. With a ticking clock due to 2 of the 10 needing to leave for flights at 4.30 we luckily won the toss and elected to field with our maximum strength. A decent opening spell though from the opposition’s openers and little on offer for seam bowlers from the pitch saw a steady start and few easy chances for a breakthrough. Eventually though, spin came to the rescue in the form of the young but resilient, intelligent and excellent leg spin bowling of Max Lindsay who begun to make in roads into what was a relatively shaky batting line up that was saved by one determined and senior player who eventually made 43*. That said the toiling of the bowlers in the heat eventually saw them to 159 for 7 off their 40 overs.

Following a decent tea and a now depleted batting line up the openers of Blackaby and Williamson set about the task of hauling them back – having seen off the opening bowlers a rush of blood from a very flighted delivery saw the skipper hole out just shy of a boundary to long off. Williamson though took up the mantle for a very decent 37 before he was dismissed by a quick full delivery. A cameo from Munday at 4 brought in the wizened Matt Topliss and he and Jon Gregory saw about getting through the runs and seeing us through with just under  10 overs to spare – Jon hitting 55 not out and Matt hitting 37. A resilient display with a depleted team but a fine team performance.