Enfield win thriller against Highgate
By Greg Mackett
After a somewhat tumultuous few months the 1st XI began their League campaign at home against newly-relegated Highgate.
1st XI Match Report
Enfield 234-8 in 37 overs (L. Hawksworth 93, T. Sayers 54, J. Plumb 37)
Highgate 223-8 in 37 overs (J. Sarna 3-19, S. Martin 2-41, T. Sayers 2-46, N. Jackson 1-44, T. Bolt 0-32, J. Naughton 0-41) Catches: J. Plumb (3), J. Naughton, T.Sayers, T. Bolt.
With a number of senior players having opted to depart during the off-season, the captaincy has returned to Jack Plumb, with Chris Long (unfortunately unavailable until week three) stepping into the vice-captain role.
Frustratingly the game was initially delayed by two hours (in largely glorious sunshine) as the umpires were concerned about a wet area close to the run-ups at one end. This meant the game was reduced from 45 to 37 overs per side.
Highgate won the toss and unsurprisingly elected to field, no doubt hoping to find some early movement in the pitch. Plumb opened the batting with 18 year old James Cormack, promoted from the 2nd XI, as his opening partner. Both began watchfully against some decent new ball bowling but soon settled, with Plumb in particular looking fluent. It was a surprise therefore when he chased a wide ball and was caught behind for 37. The players then came off due to a brief rain shower. As so often seems to happen, a break instantly brought a wicket as Cormack attempted to run the first ball back down to third man, but could only edge behind for 17. This meant our only two remaining batsman with senior league experience, tony sayers and 19-year-old overseas batsman/keeper Luke Hawksworth, were at the crease with the side 57-2 in a crucial stage of the game.
Sayers began in his usual extravagant style, while Hawksworth was more circumspect but soon began to find his timing and punish any poor deliveries. The runs started to flow and a score of 250+ suddenly looked possible. However Sayers ultimately tried one big shot too many, holing out to long-off after a quickfire 54 from 38 deliveries. Newcomer Isuru Perera was next in only to swiftly depart after a mix-up left both batsmen at the same end. Thereafter responsibility for achieving a defendable score fell upon Hawksworth who was now looking increasingly comfortable at the crease. He largely dominated the rest of the innings, before falling in the last over for an excellent 93 from only 66 deliveries. The innings closing at 234-8, which was probably a par score.
In a side shorn of all its bowlers (bar Tom Bolt) from last season, it was clear we would have to bowl and field extremely well to have a chance of victory against a decent Highgate side. This was made readily apparent as Highgate began their chase in a hurry, reaching 88-0 from just thirteen overs before Nick Jackson claimed our first wicket of the league season. Jackson and Sam Martin both bowled well but at 173-2 with nine overs remaining Highgate still looked on course for a comfortable victory. However Martin then trapped the dangerous McNamara lbw for 104. The remainder of the game was a testament to a great work ethic, spirit and a willingness to put bodies on the line for the team cause. Martin in particular continued to bowl well, while in the field everyone put in 100%, with Perera notably doing some sterling work in the deep. With six overs remaining and a required run rate of 8-an-over, captain Plumb threw the ball to Jason Sarna who promptly repaid this faith by delivering all that was asked of him, taking an excellent 3-19 as Highgate wilted under the pressure we applied, finally closing on 223-8, meaning we secured a vital victory by eleven runs.
This was a crucial win, providing both ten points and some instant self-belief. Almost as important as the victory itself was the manner in which it was achieved. The team does not contain nearly the same amount of experience and quality as was regularly on display last year, so it is crucial everyone works together as a unit in the field and this is exactly what happened. While Hawksworth was the standout performer every single player played a part in what was unquestionably a team victory.
The post-match celebrations were long and raucous, with the fines committee finding numerous victims to increase our bar funds.
This will be a tough season, one which is likely to contain both highs and lows, but if the spirit remains good and everyone keeps pulling together in the way they did on Saturday then there is definite cause to be optimistic about the future.