Back on track after last week’s victory, the 2s made the trip to third placed Ongar knowing a win would effectively seal promotion. Heavy overnight rain resulted in a damp pitch and captain Stuart Whitaker had no hesitations in opting to bowl first after winning the toss.
The move seemed to have backfired as Ongar raced to 39-0 off of 8 overs, with Gamma looking to attack the bowlers at every opportunity. However, Sam Blowers maintained a good line and length and after some close calls was rewarded with the wickets of Ongar captain Suker (4) and Paris (0) in the same over. The newly introduced Lak Gill removed the dangerous Gamma (32) in the next over, and a further wicket from Blowers saw Ongar collapse to 39-4. Despite some resilience from Vino (38) and Ellis (11) wickets fell at regular intervals, with Tom Greenwood and Alex Hardy each picking up two wickets. Ongar stumbled their way to 109 all out, with a second mini collapse occurring when the last three wickets fell with the final total on the board.
The response suffered an early set back when opener Chris Humphries (6) was adjudged to be LBW off the bowling of Ellis with the score on 8. Bastin and Gill negated some disciplined Ongar bowling and began to score at a good rate bringing up the teams 50 in the 13th over. However, the introduction of deceptively quick Dixon into the attack paid immediate dividends as he clean bowled both of the set batsman, Gill for 23 and shortly after Bastin (22) who fell victim to a well-directed Yorker that sent off stump cartwheeling. The HACC middle order made starts but couldn’t quite get the job done and the wicket of Whitaker (10) with the score on 89 saw started a procession of wickets with 3 more, Chris Jones (0), Bradley Byford (6) and Hardy (0) falling before another run was added. At 89-8 there was potential for a repeat of the batting capitulation that cost the 2s victory on the opening day of the season against Rettendon. Thankfully, there would be no repeats of that as Blowers steered the side home scoring a quickfire 18, exclusively in boundaries, to steer Athletic home with two wickets to spare and guaranteed promotion to Division 4!
“It wouldn’t be Athletic without some drama! But really pleased we could get this one over the line after an excellent bowling performance. The pitch wasn’t easy and we saw wickets fall in clusters all day”
HACC Captain Stuart Whitaker