A day of cricketing tension awaits on Saturday as our two premier sides seek to bounce back from last years relegations. As a club there can be little doubt it would be a huge disappointment if either were to miss out and yet with one game left both Ryan and Rob's teams need to leap from third place in their respective tables into those promotion places.
The First XI at least have matters entirely in their own hands. A mere two points adrift of final day opponents, Westcliff on Sea, they could actually go up by drawing at Chalkwell Park. Both captains will no doubt have a very difficult job in deciding their strategy on how best to approach the contest. Normally one would look to bat second, if winning the toss, when chasing a much needed victory. However, as the points margin is so small and in the Timed format the team batting first is awarded double batting points, its likely that in the event of a drawn game whichever side gets their pads on first will prevail.
Oh and you never quite know but in the event at the conclusion of affairs we end up level on points its Harlow who will be promoted by virtue of having more wins during the course of the season.
The 1's are likely to go into the fixture unchanged from last weeks mauling of West Essex as Monger (abroad) and Jones (injured) look to miss out. The home side, who recruited a number of players from then Premier Division side Southend on Sea last season, have a number of threats. Batting wise, opener Lewis Wright and captain Peter Barnes have both scored big centuries this term and are close on the heels of our own Jason McNally in the run scoring charts. With the ball I don't think I've seen a better pair than Westcliff's Sherwin Stanley (fast) and Adil Ali (leg spin). Few will forget Ali's exuberant wicket taking celebrations at Marigolds earlier in the season although that unfortunate element to his games should not mask what a terrific bowler he is, whilst in fairness off the field you couldn't wish to meet a more pleasant opposition team member. Let's hope he doesn't get the opportunity for his grating machine gun celebration this weekend.
A fortnight ago Rob Coldwell's Second XI looked to be in pole position having comprehensively beaten Gidea Park & Romford to jump into second place. Sadly, a tactically inept display from last weeks opposition captain (Westcliff on Sea), who decided to rack up the runs rather than make a game of it when both sides needed the win, allowed Gidea Park to fly straight back into the promotion places with Harlow eight points adrift in third and Westcliff all but out of it in fourth.
The task is straight forward for the 2's. Beat bottom of the table Orsett & Thurrock at Marigolds and hold a collective prayer meeting in the hope Gidea Park fail to beat Ardleigh Green. If those two things happen then Harlow are up but should Park get any form of win then its a disappointing conclusion for Rob's men.
Elsewhere, the Third XI look to have done enough last week with their Riddell and Naeem inspired win but a few more points wouldn't go amiss.
The already promoted Fourth XI can relax and enjoy the spoils of a marvellous campaign and the young (and in certain cases not quite so young) Fives season concluded last week although some of their promising players will be given opportunities higher up the club this weekend.
Good luck to all the sides but lets especially keep our fingers crossed for the First and Second XI's. It could be a fantastic season for the club with three promotions and the Third XI retaining their Premier division status. To be honest, anything else doesn't bare thinking about.