Broadstairs succumbed to another home defeat and with results elsewhere going against them, they are now perilously close to the drop into Division 2. However, a 120-run partnership between Matt Hardy and Elliot Fox turned the match against promotion-chasers Holmesdale from near-certain defeat to a nail-biting finale.
Winning the toss and electing to bowl on a green pitch, the hosts had difficulty containing Holmesdale’s expansive hitting. Within 6 overs, the visitors were 34-0 although a spell of skillful bowling from Bradley Ellison (10-1-37) and Jamie Dewell (10-2-33) brought three wickets and a check on the scoring rate. When the division’s leading run-scorer Miller was bowled by Fox shortly before drinks and the score at 84-4, the prospect of keeping the Holmesdale total below 200 was looking achievable. However, the middle order had different ideas and made the second half of the innings a very uncomfortable one for the Broadstairs bowlers. Blackaby led the charge, with a superb unbeaten 116, plundering 14 runs from 3 consecutive balls in the final over. The visitors finished on 247-8, the remaining wickets shared amongst Matt Frewin (2), Fox (1) and Matt Hardy with an exceptional piece of fielding to remove Hulstone.
The Broadstairs reply started extremely well with Alex Hogben and Scott Narraway taking a leaf out of the Holmesdale batting manual with some aggressive hitting. By the 7th over, the opening pair had accelerated to 41-0 but the dismissals of Hogben (25) and Jayojit Basu (4) in quick succession necessitated some re-building work from Narraway and Frewin. Although the partnership survived 10 overs, the scoring rate almost ground to a halt and a sequence of 4 dismissals within 7 overs saw the Broadstairs reply languishing at 79-6 by the mid-way point. The sequence of events brought together Fox and Hardy who from the start, offered a more purposeful approach to the innings. Rotating the strike and capitalizing on some glorious boundary hitting from Hardy, they began to frustrate the Holmesdale attack. When Hardy eventually fell for 76 in the 44th over, their 120-run partnership over 19 overs had changed the complexion of the match. Chris Kidd joined Fox at the crease, knowing that if they could maintain a scoring rate of around 7 per over, the target would be within reach. The Seasiders’ hopes were dented when Fox (53) was removed with a spectacular one-handed catch by May and when Alfie Huntley was bowled in the next over, it was down to Kidd and Ellison to achieve the near-impossible. Requiring 17 runs from the final over to level the scores, they fell just 4 runs short, passing the 225 milestone for maximum batting points along the way.
Despite the defeat, this was a spirited batting display and the team can take some encouragement from some excellent individual bowling and batting performances that had pushed a strong Holmesdale side right to the wire.
Broadstairs still have their fate in their own hands with victories required from their remaining three matches, starting next week with a home fixture against Upchurch.