HALSTEAD go into Saturday’s bottom-of-the-table clash at Norwich knowing a defeat could spell the dawn of a relegation dogfight.
Still without foreign star, Bangladesh capped Sydel Rasel, due to a hold-up in paperwork in his native country, Matt Spatcher rose to the fore to help them to a draw with Clacton.
The Australian’s 161 runs off 172 balls ensured the rot stopped at Star Stile on Saturday — after four consecutive defeats, but captain Tom Philp is desperate to avoid defeat again at Norwich.
“I am surprised with them (Norwich) as they have been quite strong in recent years but it would have been nice to get a win on Saturday and put us 17 points above Clacton,” he said.
“We need to string a few results together and we needed to stop the rot as we did and Saturday is an important game if we can pick up points and we do have a few guys back.”
Although Rasel is rated as very doubtful to make it in time, although his league registration is already sorted, opening batsman Matthew Surry and middle-order Josh Wells are both in line to return. Wicketkeeper Freddie Blackwell is also set to be available as Halstead look to turn around a worrying start to the season, with no wins registered since beating Sudbury on the opening day.
But Spatcher, a former overseas player from Australia who subsequently settled in the country, seems to have hit form at just the right time, hitting an unbeaten 102 and then 51 across two Twenty/20 games on Monday, taking his weekend total to 311.
On Saturday Halstead won the toss and decided to bowl, which looked a bad decision when Clacton clocked up 255 for two wickets off 51 overs. But in reply, with the Clacton bowlers relishing a chance to skittle Halstead’s previously feeble batting line-up, Spatcher hit his 161, including 20 fours and one six, while Philp himself weighed in with 28, taking the home side agonizingly close to taking the spoils after making 235 for seven wickets off 64 overs.
Then in Twenty/20 action on Monday, in the Cockspur Cup, a national competition, Halstead beat Sudbury by 27 runs at Star Stile before their abandoned game with Saffron Walden was given to their opponents on run-rate, though Halstead do progress from round one on overall record.