Senior players can add experience to help aid Halstead’s survival

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Halstead Cricket Club’s vice-captain Mark Johnson believes bringing back the old guard can help them avoid the ignominy of a second successive relegation.

Paul Harris and John Clinch, who helped take the Star Stile club into the East Anglian Premier League before their relegation last year, returned after several years away to help mastermind a much-needed win at fellow strugglers Elmstead Grasshoppers.

The five-wicket win, only their second victory of the season at the halfway point of the season in Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division One, moves them 17 points clear of the relegation zone.

But with that being less than the 20 points that can be recorded with a win, it means the pressure is still very much on ahead of hosting in-form Hadleigh on Saturday (1pm).

Johnson, who took over as skipper from unavailable Charlie Douglas-Hughes on Saturday, said of bringing the senior duo back: “It definitely worked at the weekend.

“If these people can be available every week we will wait and see, but it helps the younger guys along.

He added: “It has been a tough start, but I think we will be okay and win on Saturday against Hadleigh.”

Paul Harris, who Johnson praised for leading from the front with the bat against Elmstead, is set to be available for a second week.

But left-arm spinner Clinch, who took three wickets on his return to the Essex side, is unlikely to be fully fit to play.

Douglas-Hughes, who was away coaching last week, will return to lead the side though.

But Hadleigh captain Josh Davey is confident of maintaining their winning streak — which stretched to three games after their 16-run victory at home to Witham.

The run has seen them finish the first half of the season since their promotion from Division Two in fourth place, a great achievement in their captain’s eyes.

“At the start of the season we showed a bit of a lack of experience in games,” said Davey.

“But everything has settled down and I could not ask for better from the first half of the season.”

Hadleigh picked up 19 points at Friars Road after Tom Piddington hit 62 runs on their way to a total of 218-9.

Matt Wareing then starred with the bowl to carry them over the winning line again, taking four wickets for 34 runs.

With opponents Halstead third bottom in the table, Saturday’s game is one Davey is targeting as another win, to do the double following a one-wicket win on the opening day.

“It would be a real shame to throw the hard work away and these kind of games, against sides like Halstead, are the ones we should really be looking to win,” he said.

Hadleigh have no injury concerns and are set to welcome back medium pace bowler Kalpesh Ellis, who has been helping his brother move back to India.