Mixed emotions for Hornchurch as Paul Walter shines on first-class debut for Essex, but Roy Smith’s men lose ground on Wanstead

PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 August 2016

Paul Walter (right) congratulates Essex team-mate Nick Browne on his innings of 229 not out at Derbyshire (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Paul Walter (right) congratulates Essex team-mate Nick Browne on his innings of 229 not out at Derbyshire (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

Leaders host Roy Smith’s team this weekend and he feels they will be worthy champions of Premier Division

Roy Smith was pleased to see Hornchurch’s Paul Walter shine for Essex this week, but conceded his success has dented their own aims.

The Harrow Lodge Park club were in Essex League Premier Division action last Saturday, while Essex met Derbyshire in Division Two of the County Championship.

Walter played, with Tom Moore on 12th man duties, and Hornchurch lost by six wickets to Ilford with them unavailable.

Paul Murray, Marc Whitlock and Mo Shah were also missing, but Smith was delighted to see Walter hit 47 on his first-class debut for Essex and finish with four wickets as they won by an innings and 62 runs.

“It was pleasing to see Paul get 47 and take four wickets in the match,” said Hornchurch’s captain.

“He has come in and gone a long way since we first saw him a couple of years ago and it’s great. I did say at the start of the season we can have a go, but it will depend on injuries and whether we have our best team available on a regular basis.

“When we did have our strongest side out for half of the campaign, we were right up there and in the title race, but when you’re missing four to five players it is hard and the reinforcements aren’t the same.”

Hornchurch hope to have Moore and Walter available when they visit long-time leaders Wanstead tomorrow (Saturday).

After dropping to fourth in the standings last weekend, Smith is keen for his team to bounce back and get a positive result.

Even if Moore and Walter do have Essex commitments again, the Hornchurch skipper urged his side to go into the match with belief.

Smith added: “If we can go to Wanstead with our first team then we will be confident.

“When you have the likes of Tom and Paul available, their confidence rubs off on everybody else. When they are not about, our confidence is a bit lower.

“If they’re both away then it will be difficult to try and get a win, but as soon as we step on to the field, no matter what we’ve got, we have to have the belief we can win.

“To me if we don’t have that, then there is no point turning up, so we’ll be confident either way.”

Hornchurch could not handle the talent of Essex’s Ashar Zaidi last weekend, as he shone with bat and ball for Ilford at Harrow Lodge.

Smith won the toss and top scored with a patient 74, while Rashidi Boucher struck 44, but the rest of the batting line-up struggled.

Hornchurch were all out for 223 and although Michael Bones (2-51) nabbed a brace, Zaidi smashed 73 not out off just 54 balls to seal Ilford’s victory in the 38th over.

It means Smith’s men are now 59 points behind Wanstead ahead of this weekend’s clash at Overton Drive.

Having been involved in the title race for most of the campaign, the Hornchurch captain thinks the Herons would be worthy champions.

“Wanstead have been good all year and consistent so for me they deserve to win it now,” said Smith.

“Obviously we still have a long way to go, three games, but they have built up a little gap now so they should win.”

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