Hales & Loddon (171-9) lost to Hockwold (174-5) by five wickets in Norfolk Alliance Division Six.
Freescoring Joel Gilmour hammered a quickfire half-century as Hockwold celebrated their runaway league title success with an emphatic victory over Hales and Loddon.
Gilmour blitzed the H&L bowling with a 33-ball 70 containing five sixes and six fours as the hosts made light work of chasing down a 172 target. Skipper Roy Bland (42) and Euan Gilmour (24 not out) also tucked in as the buoyant champions reached the target in the 22nd over to pave the way for a night of prolonged celebrations.
After winning the toss H&L decided to bat with the aim of posting a big enough total to spoil the hosts’ promotion party, but on a compact ground with a fast outfield and short boundaries on all but one side, the 171 total looked well below par against a team renowned for their prowess with the willow in hand. Milton Lindsay (25), Jon Andrews (23), Mark Stewart (24), Dean Fisher (20) and Will Yates, who hit a spirited unbeaten 43, all made valid contributions but exited without finding the impetus to post the 250-plus total H&L felt was required.
Spin bowler Simon Groom led the hosts’ bowling effort with a 3 for 2 return from five overs, while Bland claimed 2 for 30 from his five. There were wickets for Jonathan Storey, Carl Smith, Anthony Ruddick and Gary Butcher as Bland invited nine players to turn their arms over.
H&L enjoyed some success with the ball, reducing the hosts to 32-3. But this proved to be a false dawn as Bland had reshuffled his batting line-up to give opportunities to players deprived of batting action this term. When the big guns arrived the game was swiftly put to bed, as Gilmour began peppering the short leg-side boundary at will. The hapless Yates in particular was forced to endure some brutal punishment as his two overs were despatched for 41 runs. Gilmour eventually departed, caught in the deep by Sam Ford off the bowling of Mark Stewart after a 99-run fourth wicket stand with Bland.
Teenager Ford took the H&L bowling honours with 3 for 26 effort from his five overs, a very plucky effort in testing circumstances, while Stewart (1 for 25 from 5) and Dean Fisher (1 for 14 from 2) took the other wickets. The defeat saw H&L finish the campaign in sixth place with a record of seven wins and eight defeats.
President’s Day + Youth Awards this Sunday
Hales and Loddon welcome Sir Nicholas Bacon to the Green on Sunday for a President’s Day game (start noon). All sponsors, ex-players and supporters are welcome. The club’s youth presentation is being held after the match at around 4.30 pm.
Club chairman Pete Dye explained: “Sir Nicholas has been a great support to us as President of the club over many years now, so it is a real pleasure to have him and his side at the club on Sunday. This season we decided to combine the day with our youth presentation, as well as inviting sponsors who have supported the club, to enjoy the end-of-season finale. There are 18 awards, which will be presented by Sir Nicholas after his match”. Dye added: “In this day and age it is getting harder to fund clubs, to keep cricket affordable for young players. We are very lucky at Hales & Loddon to have some very good supporters. We have a strong youth presence throughout the club, and have built up a good relationship with local businesses.”