Haverhill are ‘confident’ of staying in Division One

Haverhill batsman Chris Palmer during his innings of 148 against Witham. ANL-161007-201339009
Haverhill batsman Chris Palmer during his innings of 148 against Witham. ANL-161007-201339009

Record-breaking Haverhill batsman Chris Palmer believes the team has the talent to win enough matches to get clear of the Division One drop zone.

The 27-year-old all-rounder’s magnificent innings of 148 against Witham in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship at Manor Road on Saturday was the highest score by any Haverhill player in the five seasons in which they have competed in Division One, beating the 141not out by current skipper Adam Dellar at Mildenhall in July 2013.

His century was also only the seventh achieved by a Haverhill player in Division One and just the second to be scored at that level at Manor Road, surpassing the 101not out by Amit Gupta against Maldon in June 2014.

As good as his innings was, however, Haverhill lost the match by seven wickets, leaving him with a bitter-sweet feeling.

“I felt good on Saturday,” said Palmer, who joined Haverhill this season after many years at Babraham.

“It was good, but it was a shame we were on the losing side.”

The defeat and surprise wins for Braintree and Mistley over the top two clubs, Wivenhoe and Mildenhall, respectively, married with Hadleigh’s trouncing of bottom side Copford, meant Haverhill dropped to second-bottom in the table.

They are just one point and one place behind Hadleigh, whom they are away to on Saturday in what is the first of five games against all the other sides in the bottom six of the table, including Copford, Braintree, Mistley and Halstead.

Palmer knows those five matches will shape Haverhill’s destiny, but is convinced the team has what it takes to get the required wins to push them up the table.

He said: “I think we are looking for three wins, definitely three wins.

“All the next five games are the games we won or came very close to winning (Braintree aside, where they lost by 195 runs) so it’s a big part of the season to try and stay up.

“There is a lot of talent in the team, it’s just getting it all to come together at the right time. Hopefully that will be in the next few games and we will pick up some wins.

“I think we are confident we are definitely going to stay up. I think we feel we are not in the two weakest teams in the league.”

Saturday’s loss to third-placed Witham was the first time this season that Haverhill have batted first and posted a big score (283-5), having usually bowled first during this campaign, and it shows they can post large totals, a fact acknowledged by Palmer.

“I think at the start of the season we got into a bit of a routine of bowling first. We were restricting teams to low totals and were able to chase them down eventually, sometimes with one or two wickets left, but as the season has gone on that has not been working and I think Saturday showed we will be able to get a total on the board.”

Haverhill have been boosted this week by the news that batsman Sam Powell will be allowed to play for them at Hadleigh and the remainder of the season if available.

The club had been denied permission by the league to play him against Witham because he had already played some matches in the Surrey Championship this season, but on Monday the Two Counties management sub-committee met and approved Haverhill’s request to play him.

Haverhill XI: Dellar (c), Phillips, Palmer, Powell, Ruthven, Humphrey, Pass, B Wilkins, Boulton, Bailey, C Brunning.