Bar go top of the Saracens Herts Premier League with a convincing 8 wicket win over bottom club Hertford at what was a cold and dank old day at The Walk.
The morning started brightly for the visitors, winning the toss on a fine looking pitch in bright sunshine and it looked to be a long day in the dirt for the home team. However they got off to a great start as Jigar Mehta managed to snick Will Ray off to slip, where Josh Matthews held a nice catch. When Richard Leather went to an outstanding catch at point off of Teddy Duke, the visitors were 2 for 11 after 10 attritional overs.
The visitors had two centurions the previous week and they both got right in behind it and as the weather closed in, the scoring rate was akin to an asthmatic tortoise and the game was turning a tad turgid. 21 runs in the first 17 overs to be exact as the purists were racing to their seats. However Bailey Eustance broke the shackles and struck 8 fine boundaries in 12 balls as the visitors bit back. He was to clear the ropes with a majestic maximum over long-on to put the hosts on 74 for 2.
Sadly though Eustance went next ball as he tried to delicately deflect the ball past slip and Luke Chapman took a fine low tumbling catch. Fayaz Homyoon still managed to battle through and as the weather got darker and lunch fast on the horizon his 95-ball stay was ended as Anmol Maheshram trapped him leg before for 29. Lunch was then duly called as the rain was starting to fall and at 85 for 4 the visitors were still some fair distance from being well in the game.
Five balls after lunch George Pavey was bowled by Maheshram to land him his third of the day and when skipper Benji Cowell got one that turned and bounced more than he anticipated he was well caught by James Seward to leave the hosts 95 for 6. Max Lawrance and Tom Orchard put on a determined 29 in 54 balls before the retuned Teddy Duke got a wicket with his second ball. He then mopped up Lawrance and Dan Orchard, both caught brilliantly well by James Seward and skipper Luke Chapman had Underdown well taken by Seward (14 catches now) to leave the visitors out for 132.
Teddy Duke for the second week gained PBCC career best figures of 4 for 12, Anmol Maheshram 3 for 43, Luke Chapman with 2, leaving him one wicket shy of 150 league wickets for the club and 1 for Jigar Mehta who was more like his old self.
So 133 to win in 63 overs but Bar got off to a shocker as Josh Matthews drove straight to short cover second ball and when James Seward was gobbled up in the gully from a ball that got big on him for 1, Bar were in dead lumber at 1 for 2. To the visitors credit, Andrew Knight's spell was excellent. Bowled straight, excellent line and length and to be honest Reece Hussain and Steve Gale just had to see him off. To be brutal they did and the runs came at the other end. Andrew Knight gave away just 15 in 12 fine overs, the other end garnered 48 and the back had been broken in the target.
Apart from a little wobble, Reece Hussain was batting as well as he has in the three seasons he's been at the club. His partner in crime, Steve Gale has found a new position at number 4 that suits him perfectly and has in all truth reinvigorated him. The pair saw it through to the tea break, sat 83 for 2 needing just 50 to win in 37+ overs and after the break the win and top of the table was sewn up in just 46 balls. Reece Hussain ended unbeaten on 89, his third half century of the campaign and Steve Gale 39 as Bar gained their 5th league win of the season.
Next week sees a trip to Hoddesdon where Bar were probably saved by the rain last year and will need to be at their best to get anything against a well organised and ambitious team.