Hales & Loddon (264-9) beat Diss A (233-8) by 31 runs in Norfolk Alliance Division Six.
Freescoring Mark Stewart kept Hales & Loddon in the Norfolk Alliance Division Six promotion hunt with a century and then dedicated his match-winning knock to the memory of his father.
In-form Stewart unleashed a repertoire of powerful strokes on his way to a personal best 133 in his first game since the recent death of his father Martin, at the age of 66.
“He was the reason I started playing and when I was nearing the century I was thinking of him,” he said. “I just felt it was appropriate to dedicate the innings to his memory.”
H&L were in a precarious position of 17 for 2 when Stewart arrived at the crease in the 7th over, having witnessed the departures of Isaac Rolph for a golden duck and skipper Jon Andrews for 5, both bowled. But in the space of the following 30 overs, Stewart steered the side past the 200 total with a boundary blitz featuring four sixes and 14 fours.
After teenage opener Charlie Duffield had weighed in with a much-needed 31, a very mature innings in the circumstances after stepping up from the A team, Stewart enjoyed an entertaining 100-plus partnership with Auldwyn Lindsay. In his first match since a recent eye operation, the Tobagan recruit returned to form with a season’s best 45 – a contribution which earned the club’s calypso cricketer an invitation to join the Norfolk Over 50s set-up.
Stewart eventually exited the arena in the 40th over, after an excellent diving catch at deep mid-wicket off the bowling of Jody Sparrow. But a wagging tail featuring 19 from the fast-improving Tim Outlaw and 15 not out from Sam Ford helped H&L to post a 264 total – a sizeable score which had looked unlikely after Diss inserted the hosts on a pitch which did not suggest a runfest was imminent.
Sparrow was the visitors’ most successful bowler with 3 for 53 from nine overs while Sam Hunt (9 overs 2 for 29) and Joshua Heaton (7 overs 2 for 61) shared four wickets.
H & L grabbed the early initiative with the ball as Ford broke through the defences of openers Andrew Gregory (1) and Andrew Horobin (15). When seamer Stewart tore through the middle order on his way to figures of 4 for 25, the hosts were in the driving seat at 120-7. But once H&L’s three recognised frontline bowlers had finished their spells, Andrews was forced to use a variety of options which took the tally of bowlers used to eight.
Sam Hunt, the mainstay of the Diss batting, took advantage to progress to an unbeaten 96 as the visitors eventually finished on 233-8 with Sparrow contributing an unbeaten 20. Aidan Browne (21) and Andrew Paine were the other key contributors, while 46 extras including 21 wides bolstered the total, and prolonged proceedings.
The revenge victory against a team who had bowled them out for 70 this term left H&L in third place, 47 points behind leaders Hockwold, and 20 points behind Happisburgh and with everything to play for in the three remaining games away to Bradfield, home to Topcroft and away to Hockwold.