League Update (end of February)
The League has now just passed the two thirds stage for this season, and whilst some positions at the top and bottom of the divisions look fairly settled, others are looking like going 'down to the wire'.
Division 1 sees the usual two protagonists, Crown & Sceptre 1st and Adeyfield 1st, once again battling it out at the top. Last season's champions, C&S 1st, hold a five point advantage, however Adeyfield 1st have a game in hand (versus Adeyfield A). The third match between the top two, last week, looked to be edging C&S ahead, as Gary Keers inflicted just the second defeat of the season on Mike Boardman, and they lead 4-2 and 5-3, but Adeyfield battled back to make it a 5-5 draw (and only the second doubles defeat of the season for C&S), which makes Adeyfield 1st the slight favourites, due to their match in hand. Flamstead 1st are well clear of the rest, in third place, with a strong all round team capable of getting close to the top two; they are then followed in mid-table by Adeyfield A and then Crown & Sceptre A, who have opened up a slight gap ahead of sixth placed Northchurch 1st. Crown & Sceptre B are holding off Flamstead A at the foot of the table, with a five point margin. In the Averages, barring occasional players, Mike Boardman just heads the list, with his only two defeats coming at the hands of 2nd and 3rd placed John McCance and Gary Keers, who have been in fine form, this season. Outside the top two teams, both Angela Smith and Ken Stonebridge can beat almost anyone, on their day, whilst other big improvers this season include the likes of Adeyfield A's Mike Branscombe and Northchurch's Simon Whale.
Division 2 appears much more decided, as St. George's 1st have been leading the way all throughout the season, spearheaded by young Daniel Broner, but with strong backup from Jackie Channell and the ever improving Bob Sapuan. Row are then clear in second place, with Paul Jolly their top player, these days, but again with strong backup from Mick Chandler and Bob Cummins. The battle for third place has been close, all season, between Adeyfield B and McAlpine, with Adeyfield B have just edged back ahead after beating their mid-table rivals 6-4, last week. Below these two, fifth/sixth places are equally close between Northchurch A and Crown & Sceptre C, separated by just two points. Flamstead B are somewhat adrift at the bottom of the table, as they sometimes struggle to get a full team out, but even they, on their day, can trouble the teams higher up, showing just how competitive the division is, this season. Individually, Daniel Broner went unbeaten for the first half of the season, but Paul Jolly has taken over at the top, latterly. Behind these two (barring occasional players) it's Martin Johnson, just ahead of the likes of Bob Sapuan, Xin Jun Wang and Mick Chandler. Big improvers in this division, this season, include Bob Sapuan, Matt Rogers and Mariusz Puczynski, whose brilliant hitting to provide Paul Jolly with only his second loss of the season, was one of the bigger 'shocks' of the season.
Division 3 is the closest of them all, at the top! A tight four way battle is raging, with early leaders, St. George's A, having now been overtaken by Northchurch B, although if St. George's A won their match in hand 10-0, the gap would be just one point! Third placed Flamstead C are level on points with St. George's A, but without a match in hand, whilst Adeyfield C are just one point further back, but also do have a match in hand! This one looks like it may not be settled until the final week of the season, when fittingly, the top four are all playing each other - Adeyfield C vs Flamstead C and Northchurch B vs St. George's A !! Behind the top four, Highfield are just heading 'new boys', Leverstock Green, but not much in it, then followed by Kings Langley Cricket Club and then Crown & Sceptre D. In the Averages, Toofan Khalili and Bruce Ghaemi head the list, for each their only loss has been to the other. After these two, it's Toofan's team mate, Steve Laird and then Flamstead C's Tony Bourke in close contention, with those not too far behind including Chris Ward, Tim Boyall, Gal-On Broner and Gerry Evans, all of St. Georges A, plus Niko Ferdinandov, Phil Hards and Mark Yelland. Some promising newcomers in the division, including the aforementioned Toofan and Niko, as well as the likes of Mike Carberry and Chris Jennings, of Leverstock Green, amongst others.