Hales & Loddon CC left to reflect on what might have been

Action from Swardeston A against Vauxhall Mallards A in Norfolk Alliance Division One. The Mallards

Action from Swardeston A against Vauxhall Mallards A in Norfolk Alliance Division One. The Mallards batsman is veteran Steve Goldsmith. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant

Jack Cook hit a fine half century as Hales and Loddon went down with all guns blazing in a freescoring Norfolk Alliance Division Six encounter at derby rivals Topcroft A.

On a belter of a batting wicket, Cook led the reply as H&L set about chasing a substantial 265 victory target.

After seeing opening partner Milton Lindsay bowled by Greg Rostron for a duck, Cook took command, despatching 13 fours with authority. An entertaining knock ended when he failed to get hold of a full toss from Josh Jones and was caught at mid-wicket for 72 by Lee Ellis.

Despite Cook’s departure on 132-6, runs continued to flow freely, although a steady fall of wickets saw the H&L reply run out of steam. When the innings ended on 207 there was the best part of 11 overs unused and H&L were bang on the asking rate, leaving them to lament the lack of a sizeable partnership.

Worthy contributions came all the way down the order from Matt Buckingham (16), Auldwyn Lindsay (16), Will Yates (20), Anthony Elsom (14) and in-form Martin Wells (34) — his typically combative knock featuring six fours.

The hosts’ bowling effort was spearheaded by Rostron’s 3 for 23 from seven overs while Harry Taylor (2 -37), Josh Jones (2 32) and Graeme Talbot (2-13) shared six wickets.

The Topcroft total featured a stylish 79-ball century from skipper Jon Block. An innings laced with authentic strokes containing 15 fours finally ended on 100. Paceman Isaac Rolph, in his second spell, had him caught behind by Cook, with the total on 234-4.

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Former Hales player Rostron also hit a half century but led a charmed life at the crease, twice surviving confident appeals for catches behind by Cook and then being dropped on the midwicket boundary in his 40s by Will Yates. Yates atoned for the error by taking a blinding return catch to send Rostron back to the pavilion for 68, thereby breaking the pivotal 111-run second wicket partnership with Block.

The experienced Graeme Talbot maintained the hosts’ momentum with the bat, crashing eight fours and a six in his powerful unbeaten 56 to take the total to 264.

It was an afternoon to forget for the HL bowlers who toiled away for scant reward in windswept conditions. Musker McIntyre H&L MoM: Jack Cook.