Hornchurch Cricket Club’s stand-in captain Paul Murray knew South Woodford Cricket Club would make it hard for them in Essex League Premier Division

Hornchurch opener Jamie Sorrell (left) alongside wicket-keeper Paul Murray (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Pho

Hornchurch opener Jamie Sorrell (left) alongside wicket-keeper Paul Murray (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo). - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Without skipper Roy Smith as well as three other key players, 2015 Division One Champions fell to third consecutive defeat

Hornchurch’s stand-in captain Paul Murray admitted they always knew Saturday’s Essex League Premier Division clash at South Woodford was going to be difficult.

The Harrow Lodge Park outfit have spent most of the campaign batting with Wanstead for top spot. After losses to Shenfield and Chingford in recent weeks, they were looking to bounce back at the Shed.

Skipper Roy Smith wasn’t available, however, and on top of that Hornchurch were missing Tom Moore, Paul Walter and Chamikara Mudalige.

It was too many key players to be without in the end as despite scoring 301-7 first up, the hosts brilliantly chased it down with 14 balls remaining for the loss of five wickets.

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Murray said: “At the halfway stage we knew it was going to hard. From Thursday night to Saturday we lost 20 overs. Paul pulled out because he was with Essex and ‘Chami’ dropped out on Friday night so that was a blow.

“We had to drag young Lewis Byford in and he is really a third team player so we thought it would be difficult. It didn’t help that we dropped quite a few catches and three of them off my bowling would you believe it or not.”

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Hornchurch made an excellent start at the Shed with Murray hitting 40 at the top of the order and Jamie Sorrell adding 22.

Billy Gordon (30) and Michael Bones (25) kept up the scoring before Rashidi Boucher stole the show again.

The West Indian smashed 109 off just 75 balls to help Hornchurch score over 300, but they couldn’t defend it. South Woodford’s number three Peter Lazarus hit a fine 116* while James Swash added 70.

Harry Shirt’s unbeaten 33 off just 19 balls ensured they consigned the visitors to a third consecutive loss in the division.

“Peter got a hundred, he batted superb to be fair to him and didn’t give any chances until he reached his ton,” said Murray.

“We dropped him at mid-wicket shortly after he reached three figures and had we held onto that it might have been different.

“The other lad that come in did smash 33 off around 19 balls, though, so it is hard to say what impact it might have had.

“Paul, Tom and ‘Chami’ are three massive players and if we had them it might have been different. The first meeting between we bowled them out for 67, but we were light in the area on Saturday.”

Hornchurch’s lack of options with the ball resulted in Murray getting through five overs himself.

Usually behind the stumps as a wicket-keeper, the stand-in skipper actually claimed a wicket and finished with figures of 1-49.

Murray added: “I actually come on first change for the twos the week before and got 2-50. It surprised me that I got through nine overs!

“I must have bowled about eight good balls and on Saturday, Billy was egging me on to have a go. We thought it was worth trying something different.

“My first over I kept it pretty tight. I got a wicket in my second, but they were going after everyone and got me from the last three.”

It was a frustrating day for Hornchurch and not the result they wanted, but the likes of Ed Smith and Byford would have learnt a lot from the experience.

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