By Charles Randall
30 October 2019
Radlett won the Hertfordshire League table to ensure an altogether better season for their captain Kabir Toor.
In 2018 the former Middlesex all-rounder missed the final month to recover from facial injuries in an unprovoked street attack in London. Without him, Radlett found themselves in a relegation scrap, but this year the contrast could hardly have been greater. Toor, back in charge and in form, led his side to the title with a week to spare before becoming the father of twins in October.
Mike Atherton's son Josh De Caires, 17, enjoyed a successful season as opener when available from St Albans School, recording his maiden league hundred to set up victory over runners-up Welwyn Garden City, a side bolstered by Owais Shah, the former England batsman. Shah finished as the league's top scorer at the age of 40 with 859 at 78.1, followed by team-mate and Club Cricket Conference regular Jamie Southgate, with 535 at 66.8. De Caires hit 519 at 64.8 and Toor 552 at 42.4.
Bishops Stortford, an elite club with a distinguished past, finished bottom of the Herts table to be replaced by Hoddesdon. Luton Town & Indians were relegated after losing their play-off against Reed, the National Village champions.
The 'champions' of Hertfordshire was an accolade given to third-placed Potters Bar, who defeated Welwyn Garden City and then Radlett in the play-offs, a unique system in club cricket with plenty of critics. Though Potter Bar beat Radlett three times in the summer, few observers would accept that Toor's table toppers were not champions. Indeed the play-offs, adding two weeks to the length of the season, could be scrapped.
Radlett's bowling won them the league title. Toor's leg-breaks claimed 29 wickets as the main threat, but the seam attack of paceman Randeep Sanghera, the former New Zealander Under-19 player Nathan Smith, Anthony Hill and Abdul Mulla enjoyed their moments. The batting was mainly carried by Toor and the promising De Caires, who won the Middlesex Young Player award as Toor had done many years before him.
Brentwood clinched the Essex League title after their jet-propelled start featuring Nick Winter, the Australian left-arm seamer. His swing at pace sliced through many top orders, though in limited overs opponents tended to block him out and take their chance elsewhere - a ploy which did not often work because the back-up bowling was so effective.
Winter finished with 59 wickets, having missed the last three weeks. Brentwood won their final five games, and it was Charlie Griffiths (5-20) who bowled out lowly Chingford for 92 in the final match, setting up a seven-wicket win at The Old County Ground to see off Wanstead & Snaresbrook, runners-up again.
Winter bid farewell with 7-43 against 2018 champions Hornchurch, an eight-wicket win for the title successors. Chelmsford, strong this year, won at Brentwood on August 3, but they lacked the firepower to sustain their challenge.
Colchester & East Essex returned to the top flight with Harold Wood, replacing Ilford and Buckhurst Hill. It was interesting that Hutton failed to rise from mid-table in the second tier, despite another sensational season from Vivian Paver, their Australian spin all-rounder, who scored 1,235 runs in all competitions at 72.6. In 2018 Paver hit 1,647 runs at 96.8, including eight centuries.