SHEPHERD NEAME LEAGUE DIVISION THREE: Benfleet clamber off the foot of the table

Benfleet's James Wilkins, seen here batting, is in upbeat mood

Benfleet's James Wilkins, seen here batting, is in upbeat mood

First published in Sport by

BENFLEET climbed off the foot of the table as they recorded back to back wins by defeating Oakfield Parkonians by five wickets.

The hosts made a good start but were eventually pegged back and bowled out for 158 in 39.2 overs.

Benfleet knocked off the runs in 42.5 overs to post a winning 159-5 and leave skipper James Wilkins in upbeat mood.

“It was a really good win for us, considering the way they started. Their two openers had 40 runs off three overs and last week the team scored 425,” he said.

“We got off to a steady start with the batting on a wet wicket. We took our time and it was good to see everyone having confidence.

“Our heads could have gone down after their strong start but everyone stayed at it and did fantastically well.”

Wilkins said Charlie Huntley’s figures (2-49) did not show how well he bowled, while Mark Acraman took 2-8 and John Bull (3-19) enjoyed a double wicket maiden in his first over.

Shane Vamadevan (28) and Sachin Vara (24) opened well for Parks but the hosts only troubled the scorers briefly down the order when Anton Buntin hit 20 and Paran Kalley 18.

Graeme Valentine opened with 22 and even losing Stephen Reeve for four did not put the brakes on Benfleet as their remaining batsmen all got into double figures, with Gareth Steed (31) and Rob Zammit (28no) leading the way.

“We just kept taking wickets and everyone bowled superbly well,” added Wilkins.

“Rob Zammit has come good again. After innings of six, seven and eight, he got 50 last week and 28 this week and Steedy got 30-odd. It was a steady start but everyone chipped in.”

Old Southendian & Southchurch remain in the promotion mix after crushing their Epping hosts by eight wickets.

The Old Boys skittled Epping out for 140 in 33.5 overs before wrapping up their fifth win of the campaign in 20.3 overs with a 142-2 reply.

Southendian moved up to second and trail leaders Harlow Town by two points and are a point ahead of Stanford le Hope.

Harlow suffered their first defeat of the campaign, losing by 131 runs to Woodford Green, while Stanford were without a game on Saturday.

Old Boys’ captain Aaron Lucas was delighted with the result, which kept his side's ambition of a swift return to Division Two on course.

“I lost the toss and I was quite surprised when they elected to bat because I was looking to bowl first,” said Lucas.

“With the weather around we not only wanted to bowl them out quickly but get our batting done and dusted as soon as possible.

“We had to stay a bit patient for the first few wickets but then Adam Hunt bowled particularly well with the right pace to get a five for. It’s great that every week someone else is stepping up and taking wickets.

“We bowled them out for 140 and went about getting the runs in quickly. The two openers, Rob Johnston and Max Craddock laid a great foundation to set up a comfortable win.

“Max batted all the way through for an unbeaten 37. It was not the highest score but it was a very mature innings for a 20-year-old. I came in and their work gave me the freedom to bash it around a bit, which is unusual for me.”

Basildon & Pitsea suffered a third consecutive defeat and slipped to eighth in the table.

The men from Mopsies posted 245-8 from their 50 overs but Old Brentwoods replied with a winning 248-7 in 46.2 overs.

Skipper Michael Gray led from the front with 81 runs and AnandKumar Ganesan contibuted 40, with Kalai Selven hitting 28 while opening the batting with Gray. Lemuel English led the Old Boys attack with 4-47.

Brentwoods opener Gurpal Lall clubbed 51 but two ducks gave Basildon hope but a stubborn unbeaten 79 from Rumman Syed and a late 36 not out from English saw the hosts to victory.

Ganesan (2-40), Luke Daw (2-50), Muhammad Ali (2-35) and Jamie White (1-25) took the wickets.

“It was a frustrating result because although we batted and bowled well it was not quite good enough,” said Gray.

“If we had scored another 20 or 30 runs and taken our chances with the ball then it might have been a different story.

“I batted all right and Anand Kumar did well too on a nice wicket. I thought it was enough to be in with a chance of winning the game but we couldn’t get the last three wickets and get over the line.

“We missed a couple of chances and that cost us because we are not good enough as a team to be able to waste chances when we get them.

“It is the third defeat on the trot for us and makes our game against Epping next weekend a must-win one.”

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