Haverhill Cricket Club captain Ben Wilkins reacts to last day survival victory against Dunmow as Elmstead suffer relegation
‘Pure elation’ - that is how Haverhill captain Ben Wilkins described the scenes at Manor Road on Saturday as the club beat promotion-chasing Dunmow to avoid falling through the relegation trapdoor.
Although they went into the final day of the Marshall Hatcick Two Counties Championship season one place outside the bottom two drop zone in Division Two, the pressure had been on the hosts to cause an upset.
Being just three points above Elmstead, they knew a win itself would not guarantee safety, as bonus points could come into play.
It meant their 2024 future was also dependant on their relegation rival’s match at top six side Woolpit II.
As it turned out, Haverhill (195) collected 20 maximum winning points with a 57-run victory against visiting Dunmow (138). It meant Elmstead’s (259) victory at Woopit (204) by 55 runs, also yielding 20 points, left the pair still three points apart and relegating them.
Reflecting on his side’s home success, Haverhill skipper Wilkins said: “It was amazing, everyone was buzzing and so excited. It was just pure elation from everyone, whether they were watching or playing.
“It was always going to be a tight one. We looked at the Elmstead versus Woolpit game too keep tabs on that and when we saw Elmstead were full strength, we knew we had to try and win the game rather than pick up the bonus points.
“Witham (in the second promotion spot) were following our game closely as well and their boys sorted out a few beers behind the bar as we beat Dunmow (3rd) which was quite nice.”
In last week’s Echo Wilkins was crying out for someone to step up and be a ‘hero’ to drag Haverhill over the line to safety.
Ultimately On Saturday, it was 11 heroes that ended up stepping onto the pitch, but two players in particular went on to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
As Dunmow opted to bowl first, the home outfit where pressured into registering a big score on the board. Craig Williams starred as he more than contributed to the overall batting total, tallying a season best 89 runs for his side, and Khalid Saeed showed great form, taking five wickets (5-22) in the blistering heat.
And of course, it was the league’s best bowler who took the final wicket to put the nail in the Elmstead coffin and spark jubilation from the Haverhill congregation when Wilkins bowled out Baz Sewell.
In the celebrations post-match, star batter Williams belted out a karaoke performance of ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias – a fitting song in tribute to his excellent display on what Wilkins described as a ‘long Saturday night’.
“Craig (Williams) stepped up when we needed him the most. We needed one batsman to get a high score and for him to get 89 on a pitch that wasn’t easy to bat on is testament to him. He took us home,” said Wilkins
“I just congratulated everyone on the win. The season has been tough and there have been points where people have probably questioned whether we are good enough to be in Division Two. As a team, we all backed ourselves and said we’re good enough and to play a team like Dunmow who are chasing promotion and beat them quite convincingly just goes to show that we are more than good enough. Hopefully we can roll on what we are doing now for next year, make some additions, get stronger and go again.”