Miller and Blackaby excel over Upchurch

Kent Cricket League Division One 1st: Holmesdale (283-5) beat Upchurch (233 all out)

On a sweltering Saturday at Montreal Park, Holmesdale’s 1st XI earned a much-needed victory against Upchurch; a day which saw Kent youngsters Will Harby and Thomas Masding, 14 and 16 years old respectively, make their 1st XI debuts.

Having been asked to bat first by the Upchurch skipper, the former Kent and Essex opening bowler David Masters, on a deck which offered plenty for the bowlers in the first hour, Holmesdale immediately found themselves in strife as wicket-keeper/batsman Brabham was caught in the covers in the first over. Harby (23) joined Epps (16) at the crease and both batted circumspectly, looking to ensure that the Dale built a solid platform from which to launch later in the innings.

They were successful in their endeavours to some extent, with the youngster looking particularly comfortable at 1st XI level, but both fell in quick succession which meant that when skipper Blackaby was joined by Nick Miller in the 15th over, the score was 49-3.

With the game in the balance at this point, Blackaby and Miller proceeded to put on a scintillating partnership of 153 runs, dispatching the Upchurch bowling to all parts of the ground. When Blackaby fell for a well-made 66, Miller was already on 93* and the Dale had the launching platform they craved at 212-4 with 7 overs remaining. Rupert Harbig then strode to the crease and unleashed a fearsome assault on the weary Upchurch attack, scoring 42 not out from only 17 balls.

During this time, Miller brought up his outstanding hundred by launching Masters over extra-cover, much to the delight of his teammates. When he was finally out in the 46th over, caught behind for a majestic 112, the score had rattled along to 240. Ant Bissett (11*) ably supported Harbig in the final few overs, taking the Holmesdale score to 283-5 from the allotted 50 overs. More than 100 runs were added in the last 10 overs by the home side, proving the value of building a solid base at the start of the innings. 

In the knowledge that the pitch had got flatter, and that the 2nd XI chased down 303 the week before, Holmesdale were under no illusions that the second innings would not be a walk in the park. Masding (0/24) opened the bowling with East (1/29) and induced numerous play-and-misses from the Upchurch top order without much success until the aggressive East bounced out Gary Williams. Blackaby followed East up the hill and had success straight away, bowling the dangerous Michael Hales Jnr (13).

However, opener Aaron Walker (51) continued to pepper the boundary until Blackaby dismissed him, taking a superb return catch off his own bowling. At the other end, Harbig clean bowled Noah Mclennan (5) and the home side looked to be well on their way to victory with the score at 78-4. But Upchurch’s Masters and Apps had other ideas. At this point Blackaby turned to the usually reliable spin of Bryant, and he was put under immediate pressure by the Upchurch pair who played shots all around the ground. At the other end a tidy spell from debutant Harby kept the run rate in check but the tables were definitely beginning to turn.

After a stern talking to from Blackaby at drinks, Holmesdale entered the last 16 overs with renewed vigour. Bissett immediately removed Apps (45) and then had Masters (59) caught by Harby. Sniffing blood, Blackaby brought himself back on to finish the job and finish it he did, taking three quick wickets to kill off any chance of an Upchurch fightback and ending with figures of 5/33. One of these wickets included an unbelievable catch which saw Rupert Harbig channel his inner Ben Stokes and pluck the ball out of the air with his right hand whilst back peddling. It was left to Bissett (3/34) to take the final scalp – much deserved from a superb, game-changing, nine over spell, as Holmesdale bowled out Upchurch for just 233.

Victory puts the 1st XI 5th in Division 1 and, with two wins and two losses from their opening four games, there is now a desire amongst the group to achieve consistency in their performances. Next week is an action-packed week for the side as they first take on the Vine in the KCL Twenty20 competition and then head to St Lawrence, Canterbury, in the league on Saturday. This is then followed by a trip to Three Bridges in the Royal London National Knockout on Sunday, of which Holmesdale are one of three Kent sides left in the competition.

Batting line up lacks filling as Holmesdale 2nd XI crash to defeat at Sandwich – Kent Cricket League Premier 2nd Division: Sandwich Town 2nd (243 all out) beat Holmesdale 2nd (188 all out)

Holmesdale’s 2nd XI made the long trip to Sandwich this weekend in an early season top of the table clash. Unfortunately, their good run of form was to come to an end.

On a hot day at Sandwich the home side won the toss and elected to bat first with the weather set fair and a pitch that looked good for batting. Holmesdale showed 4 changes from last week’s win over Hayes with McCann and Monkhouse returning and Ed Harby and Shamash making their debuts. It was to be Monkhouse who set the tone with the new ball as he and Hudson bowled with real pace not allowing the Sandwich openers to get off to a fast start.

Monkhouse made the breakthrough with opener Snell knicking a leg cutter behind the wicket and he soon struck again leaving the home side 30-2. Hudson was now withdrawn by skipper Roffey and debutant Harby introduced. He soon got in on the act as a miscued pull shot was caught in the outfield and Holmesdale were in with a real shout of skittling the home team.

Unfortunately, a few false shots evaded fielders and Chapman (81) was dropped, in what turned out to be a key moment, as another wicket failed to materialise. Monkhouse (2-33) finished an excellent 10 over burst before spin was introduced.

Runs now began to flow for Sandwich as Smith (57) and Chapman put on over 100 together leaving Sandwich well set on 157-3 after 36 overs. Roffey was now forced to bring back Hudson and he immediately took a wicket removing Smith. The skipper also brought himself on and together they kept the innings in check with the score finishing on 243 all out. Hudson with figures of 4-34 was the standout and Roffey chipped in with 2-40. The total looked below par especially after last week’s successful chase of over 300 by Holmesdale.

The reply however didn’t get off to an ideal start as Hudson (10), promoted to open, and Kovoor (5) both fell caught behind the wicket. This left Roffey and Brown to attempt a recovery. They chose to counter attack with Brown hitting 7 boundaries in his first 15 balls and Roffey playing a number of lovely strokes through the offside.

Just as the chase was looking on course disaster struck as Roffey (47) fell caught behind the ball before drinks leaving Holmesdale 99-3. Holliday, who injured his shoulder in the field, now came in but laboured to 15 before being caught at mid on and the run rate required was now approaching 6 an over.

The game was lost as Brown (46) fell looking to clear extra cover followed immediately by McCann and Shamash both for ducks as the score slipped to 131-7. A recovery of sorts was orchestrated by Hart (25*) and Harby (27) dragged the score upwards but they left themselves too much to do with Holmesdale eventually being bowled out for 188.

After a brilliant start to the season the manner of the batting collapse will cause some concern but once again there were a lot of positives to take for the young Holmesdale side. They entertain bitter rivals Lordswood at Montreal Park next week, rarely do these two provide a dull encounter.

Holmesdale 3rd XI cruise past Catford & Cyphers – Kent Regional Cricket League 1C Met/West: Holmesdale 3rd (257-6) beat Catford and Cyphers 4th (78 all out)

The Holmesdale 3rd XI returned to action on Saturday with a convincing 179-run victory over visitors Catford and Cyphers 4th XI at the St Lawrence CC ground.

From the moment skipper Sam Blackaby won the toss under a cloudless sky and elected to bat, Holmesdale dominated the day, posting 257-6 from their 40 overs. An even bigger total looked on the cards with Holmesdale on 156-1 at drinks, thanks to an excellent 114-run partnership between Alfie Marr-Johnson and Cameron Lindsay. With Lindsay falling for 52, Marr-Johnson went on to finish on a beautifully constructed 77 from 70 balls, and although Catford pulled things back a little towards the end of the innings with some infuriating slow bowling flung high above the eye-line, the total looked to be enough.

With an excellent tea out of the way Holmesdale took to the field a couple of men down as prior commitments and injuries to legs-of-a-certain-age took their toll. Despite this, Holmesdale put on an exhibition of fielding that delighted the Dale faithful on the grassy bank – and was no less than the skipper demanded after the debacle of the previous game – with (nearly) every catch held and runs denied to all corners.

As Hammad Khan took 3 for 30 from his seven overs and Cook defied both gravity and age to take three catches, the further loss of an unwell Marr-Johnson from the field made little difference to the dominant display. Holmesdale wrapped up the Catford innings in the twentieth over having conceded just 78 runs.