GIBBS DENLEY EAST ANGLIAN PREMIER LEAGUE
Great Witchingham I 234-4 Halstead I 233-8*
Halstad lost by six wickets
HALSTEAD returned to Norfolk a week after their victory over strugglers Norwich to face a Great Witchingham side sitting at the top of the table.
Halstead were buoyed by the inclusion of Bangladeshi international Syed Rasel, being available for the first time since his arrival in the UK earlier in the week.
Great Witchingham won the toss and after some deliberation elected to put Halstead in to bat on a hard, green track.
Things did not start well for Halstead, Matt Spatcher (2) departing lbw in the third over.
Four more quick wickets, those of Bertie Blackwell (8), Olly Ekers (3), new man Syed Rasel (19) and Charlie Douglas-Hughes (3), all out, caught, meant Halstead were facing a struggle to post a decent total at 77-5.
Mark Johnson (76) joined opener Freddie Blackwell (81) at the crease. Both men dug themselves in for a valuable 84-run partnership before Blackwell was caught.
Captain Tom Philp (11) and Chris Rayner (17no) helped Halstead up to a respectable total, Rayner finishing the innings with a six, the second time in a week he had done so.
Halstead finishing with 233-8 at the end of their allotted 66 overs.
It was hard work for the Halstead bowlers to pick up wickets against a side who demonstrated why they were in pole position in the league.
Batting on a pitch that dried out as the day went on, Great Witchingham always looked as though they would be on course for getting close to their required total.
They started as they meant to go on, a 52-run opening partnership by Spelman (17) and Rogers (66) was broken by the skipper Philp, Spelman being caught in the gully by Bertie Blackwell.
This did not open the floodgates for Halstead, as Arthurton jnr (42) joined Rogers at the wicket. The partnership was worth 74 when Arthurton was bowled by Chris Roper shortly after tea. Rogers fell soon after in the same vein, although this time Douglas-Hughes was the bowler.
Collishaw added 35 before becoming Rasel’s first victim for Halstead, Rayner taking the catch.
This brought to the crease McCone to join Hale (11) to take Great Witchingham over the line.
A quick fire 54 from just 24 balls for McCone meant his side reached their total with six wickets remaining.
Halstead took away a valuable 10 points but did not pull away from bottom side Norwich, who won away at Saffron Walden.
Halstead have a crucial tie at home next Saturday to Swardeston; a team who thrashed Clacton this week by ten wickets.