Postman Will Yates stamped his authority on proceedings with a sparkling unbeaten 88 as Hales & Loddon beat Cromer A to turn up the heat on their fellow Norfolk Alliance Division Five basement battlers.
Yates unleashed 18 fours in his best knock for the club so far, steering H&L to their 153 victory target with five wickets and 11 overs to spare. While Yates took centre stage with his boundary blitz, bit-part roles from Milton Lindsay (12), Isaac Rolph (13) and skipper Josh Pitcher (12) helped to ensure that the passage to the side’s third victory of the campaign was a smooth one.
After the weekend results H&L remain bottom but are just two points behind Swardeston / CEYMS and three behind Lowestoft A, adding extra significance to Saturday’s trip to Denes Oval to play the Suffolk side.
The platform for victory was laid by the H&L bowlers, who produced their best performance as a unit so far this term. Skipper Josh Pitcher won the toss and then fully justified his decision to bowl as the visitors were starved of runs from the outset. With regular paceman Isaac Rolph unable to bowl through injury, Pitcher himself and Neil Pearson, operating off a reduced run-up, took first use of the cherry. The squeeze was swiftly applied, with Cromer labouring at 22 for 2 off 14 overs. The run-scoring tempo remained pedestrian and at 86-6 off 31 overs Cromer’s prospects of a reasonable total looked slim.
However, South African tailender Alan Lithins produced a battling half century to give his side’s bowlers something worthwhile to defend. Lithins, who collapsed at the crease complaining of a side strain after hitting his first delivery, gritted his teeth to weigh in an unbeaten 54 as 66 runs were added in the final 15 overs. Nick Bond (24) and Chris Furlong (30) were the other chief contributors to the total but it was an afternoon when the H&L bowlers refused to loosen their grip on proceedings.
Pitcher, who took 3 for 33 from 11 overs, bowled with commendable discipline while left-armer Pearson was also in mean mood in a rhythmic 12-over spell which returned 2 for 22. Mark Stewart’s respectable figures of 1 for 34 from 11 overs, were tarnished by dropped catches while Martin Wells returned 2 for 28 from six overs, bagging two middle order men in one over. There was a welcome return to action for paceman Graham Squire, who on a rare visit to the area, took 1 for 24 from a cameo six-over spell.