‘Dicky’ winds back the clock to keep Harwood on top
NCCC CRICKET: Mark 'Dicky' Ensbey hit his highest premier league score in four seasons to continue Harwood's march at the top of the North Coast Cricket Council Premier League ladder.
Not since hitting 130 not out in the 2015/16 Clarence River Cricket Association grand final has Ensbey bettered his weekend total of 65 in Saturday cricket.
It was an important knock too, combining with Matt Farrell (47) to put on a 115-run opening stand in a rare top order flourish for the defending premiers so far this season.
"It was my highest score in a couple of years which was good," the 42-year-old veteran said.
"The Harwood wicket hasn't been that conducive to scoring runs which is probably why the totals haven't been as high as other seasons.
"Maybe we just can't get as much water into the wicket with the drought going on."
This time Harwood batted first at Northern District Rebels' home ground of High Street Oval at Woolgoolga.
Ensbey and Farrell saw Harwood to drinks and through a rain delay before spinner Michael McMahon finally broke the shambles when he found Farrell's edge.
Doug Harris added 30 as Harwood made 5 for 197 in an innings reduced to off 38 overs.
Former Coutts Crossing opener Luke Cox (2) missed out in his first outing for Northern Districts as young gun Troy Turner (2 for 24 off 5) put Harwood on the front foot from the outset in the field.
Mark Maharaj (30), Ramon Phoonie (32) and Simon Donald (35) toiled hard for the home side, but a steady flow of wickets eventually found Northern Districts all out for 165 and 32 runs shy of the required target with 14 balls to spare.
With the luxury of a 12-man squad aided by Lower Clarence Cricket being cancelled, Ensbey was rewarded for his work with the bat by putting his feet up and spectating the fielding effort.
"The team as a unit fielded really well, I think there was only one dropped catch," he said. "They all done their job."
It was the first outing at the Woolgoolga ground for most of the Harwood squad, including Ensbey, who has been playing premier league cricket for the club since he was 16, missing just one season due to a knee reconstruction.
"Batting first and getting an extra 40 or 50 runs on the board certainly made a big difference to bowl to," he said.
"The wicket made a big difference. The ball was coming on a bit more.
"I hadn't played there in my life. Matty Young said he played a rep game there.
"It was a very big field. As a result a couple of their players got caught on the boundary."
The win was Harwood's third in a row and maintains their position at the top of a congested ladder after six rounds, despite not winning their first game until round four.
"After a tie and losing our second game (round three washed out), I didn't think we'd be on top this quick, but it's a pretty close, even comp," Ensbey said.
"We'll See how we go after Christmas when we play a round of two-dayers."
We haven't got any out and out frontline quick bowlers, so our structure at the moment with a lot of spinners is probably better suited to the one-day games.
Next week Harwood play host to Valleys drew with Sawtell on Saturday after their fixture was cut short due to rain with Valleys on 6 for 72.