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Essex Division One: Harold Wood Cricket Club wary of threat posed by rivals Billericay

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 May 2016

Harold Wood's Richard Brabner (pic: Graham Hodges)

Harold Wood's Richard Brabner (pic: Graham Hodges)

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Skipper Brabner knows confidence will be high at newly-promoted side

Harold Wood stage their first home league game of the season at Harold Wood Park when they entertain Essex Division One newcomers Billericay on Saturday.

The Blunts Wall Road club won promotion in 2015 after finishing behind Division Two champions Fives & Heronians, as Wood dropped down from the top flight.

And Billericay had a comfortable four-wicket success against Woodford Wells on the opening day, although that result came as little surprise to Wood captain Richard Brabner, who knows first hand what momentum for the new season a promotion generates.

“It’s not uncommon for teams to get back-to-back promotions, as we well know,” said Brabner, alluding to Wood’s rise from Division Two to the Premier in successive years.

“Billericay have already shown they are a good side in this league and we know it will be another tough test for us.

“We are up for what will be a tough challenge, though, and there is a lot of hope at the club that we can get our first win of the season.”

While Billericay were winning on the opening day, Wood were playing out a draw with Southend, who only narrowly missed out on being promoted to the Premier Division last season.

Put into bat, openers Raihan Hussain (78) and Burhan Mahmood (55) gave Wood aperfect platform, but they were bowled out for just 238.

Both Brabner and 16-year-old Zohran Afzal did well with the ball during Southend’s reply, both taking three wickets, but Wood were unable to bowl their hosts out, finshing one wicket shy of victory as Southend closed on 213-9.

Brabner, though, is confident that should the game go down to the wire again, Wood will be able to triumph in home surroundings.

“You’re always hoping that the fine margins in tight matches go in your favour. You just have to ensure you’re focused and take advantage of any chances that come your way.

“It’s important to win early on in the season to make sure you can build some momentum that can get you through the rest of the year.”

The seconds claimed bragging rights with a comprehensive seven-wicket win against local rivals Hornchurch, who were captained by Wood old boy Kevin Gibson.

Billy Mortimer was the pick of the bowlers for the Wood attack, finishing with 3-37 as the visitors were bowled out for 96.

Peter Clarke top scored with 53 not out in reply for Wood, who eased to success.

The third string also enjoyed a comfortable triumph, beating their Wanstead counterparts by six wickets.

All-rounder Matt Sewell (3-29) was the pick of the bowlers as Wood bowled Wanstead out for 194.

Sewell then hit an unbeaten 40 in reply, but it was Mohammed Fahad who top scored with 52 not out as Wood cruised to their target.

The fourths suffered an agonising one-run defeat against Westcliff despite an impressive knock of 52 from Bilal Mohammed.

Wood’s fifths were held to a draw by their Walthamstow counterparts, with Adeel Khalid the pick of the batsmen, making 56 runs.

The academy side were another to impress over the weekend, crushing Hainault by seven wickets thanks to an impressive 51 from Stuart Connor and an unbeaten knock of 25 by Tom Clarke.

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