Haverhill should be ‘looking up, not down’

CRICKET - Haverhill (Batting) v Halstead (bowling)

Pictured: Anthony Phillips ANL-160108-002954009

CRICKET - Haverhill (Batting) v Halstead (bowling) Pictured: Anthony Phillips ANL-160108-002954009

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Having created history at Haverhill Cricket Club, Anthony Phillips is remaining focused on helping them retain their Division One status for 2017.

With regular captain Adam Dellar on holiday, the 21-year-old skippered the side for the first time in their 70 run defeat to Braintree on Saturday.

The result may have been disappointing for Phillips, but he achieved a club milestone in taking a hat-trick, something never before pulled off by someone on debut as skipper in a Division One match - probably in any match.

In fact, in Haverhill’s five seasons in the top division of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship only once to our knowledge has a player completed a hat-trick - Raj Singh doing so in July 2011 during a one wicket victory over Exning.

The hat-trick though, could not overshadow the disappointment of the defeat, which leaves Haverhill fourth from bottom and 27 points ahead of Hadleigh, who are one off the foot of the table, with just four games to play.

Off spinner Phillips said: “Personal achievements come second when it comes to team competitions and matches like that. That was a must-win game for us.

“I really wanted to do it (captain the side). It was an honour to lead out the boys in Division One as I’ve been there since I was a kid and these are the kind of things you live for.”

Haverhill head to Coggeshall on Saturday (1pm) knowing that a victory could well secure their place in the division - although various permutations could result in three teams instead of two being relegated, should the Division One champions not win their play-off for promotion and a Suffolk or Essex side drop out of the East Anglian Premier League.

The importance of the trip to Coggeshall is not lost on Phillips, who will pass the captaincy role back to Dellar, who returns to the side, while middle-order batsman Jamie Boulton and opening bowler Will Bailey are also back in the side after missing the Braintree defeat.

Phillips said: “We are not taking our foot off the gas, by no means, but if we get another win I would think we are safe.

They (Coggeshall) are 18 points ahead of us. It will be a very tight game and definitely a winnable game.

“I think we have got the ability to stay up. Hadleigh are 27 points behind us. They’ve got to win two games to overtake us without us taking many bonus points.

“I am pretty confident. I don’t think we should be looking down, I think we should be looking up.”

Having been moved up to open the batting this year, Phillips’ personal form with the willow has been a revelation.

He has so far scored 491 runs at an average of 32.73, with four half centuries and three other scores of 40 or above and is currently 14th on the aggregate run scoring list - four of the top five are overseas players.

In his previous Division One season in 2013, Phillips mustered a mere 94 runs in 11 innings at an average of just 8.55 runs and in Division Two last year, during which he was also the wicket keeper, he scored 362 runs in 17 knocks at an average of 27.85.

“There is so much potential in this team,” he added.

“Josh Ruthven (18), for instance, bowled seven overs for 11 runs on Saturday, six of those runs came from thick edges through slip and gully.

“He bowled superbly for me.”