Hethersett & Tas Valley (250-8) drew with Hales & Loddon (215-9) in Norfolk Alliance Division Five. Jack Cook top-scored with an enterprising half-century as Hales & Loddon staged a spirited run chase before being forced to settle for a draw in a thrilling encounter at Hethersett & Tas Valley.
Having successfully pursued 255 to stun high-flying Mattishall in the previous game, plucky Hales came out firing on all cylinders in a bid to overcome the hosts’ 250 total. Young guns Isaac Rolph and Cook led the charge with a dashing 75-run second wicket stand that took the total to 88-2 after 14 overs. When Rolph was bowled for a fine 37, Cook kept up the tempo, hitting six fours and three sixes in a cavalier 60. His entertaining knock, which saw him dropped four times, was finally ended when left-armer Matt Steward speared a delivery through his defences. Steward continued to wreak middle order havoc on his way to 5 for 34 from 12 naggingly accurate overs.
But with Mark Stewart punishing anything loose and Neil Pearson in typically belligerent mood for his quickfire 36, H&L remained firmly in the hunt at 192-7 off 35 overs. A rare moment of Hethersett fielding brilliance saw the balance of the game tip the hosts’ way as Stewart, looking to launch a delivery from promising young spinner Sam Morton out of the ground, fell for 23. The stunning running catch by James Youngs in front of the sightscreen was widely out of context with all that had gone before as six decent chances, five of them in the opening 20 overs, had been shelled.
At 192-8, with 10 overs remaining, H&L decided to scale down their ambitions and sensible batting from Andy Baker (14 not out) and number 11 Tim Outlaw, who survived three high-pressure overs, saw the visitors salvage a hard-fought draw.
Earlier Hethersett’s batsmen had enjoyed taking first use of a good batting track at their picturesque ground fringed by woodland and fishing lakes. Matt Steward top scored with 42, followed by Chris Sizeland (39) and Dean Parfitt (35). Sam Morton (23 no) and Andy Harris (25 not out) ensured that the tail wagged, with 18 runs coming off the final over as the innings reached a crescendo.
Paceman Rolph, who was wicketless after the opening five games this season, took his tally to seven in the last two matches with 3 for 62 from 11 overs, while Stewart and skipper Josh Pitcher bagged two apiece.