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Northerns back in driver’s seat

The destiny of Benoni Northerns Cricket Club’s (BNCC) Easterns Premier League title defence is back in their own hands, following a comprehensive eight-wicket pounding of arch rivals Kempton Park, on Sunday, November 24.

Kempton won the league title seven years in succession before Northerns broke that sequence last season, and Benoni’s northern neighbours still have a formidable side, so the ease with which this victory came surprised many.

Having, surprisingly, lost to CBC Old Boys away earlier in the season, Northerns simply had to win in Kempton Park to keep their challenge alive, and they rose to the challenge admirably.

Benoni captain Kurt Francis finally won a toss and had no hesitation in inviting the hosts to bat.

“The idea was to try to use the little time we expected there would be for ball movement,” explained Northerns coach Thys van Lingen.

Taking wickets at regular intervals, the visitors had the home side in big trouble at 90/6 before bowling them out for 165, off the final delivery of their allotted 50 overs.

Fast bowler Lance Humphrey was the stand-out Benoni bowler, with a brilliant return of four wickets for 22 runs in 10 overs, while JP Kok weighed in with an impressive 3/28 in five.

Marlow Moore, who opened the bowling with Humphrey, sent down 10 overs on the trot and conceded just 25 runs, while spinner Ernest Kemm also bowled very economically to further increase the pressure on the Kempton batsmen.

In reply, Benoni openers Kemm and Levon Shields put together a fantastic partnership of 66, before the latter departed, and a second wicket was to fall soon thereafter.

That was, however, the only success Kempton were to enjoy, as, thereafter, Kemm and Kok took the visitors across the line by hitting the winning runs in the 38th over, which secured a first bonus-point victory for Northerns over their toughest rivals in many years.

Kemm ended on an undefeated 90 and Kok an unbeaten 39, to cap a fine all-round team effort by BNCC.

“This was the best performance by our boys in the field thus far this season,” said van Lingen.

“Constant wicket-taking helped us to keep the opposition’s runs down on a batting pitch, while our bowlers showed great discipline, with openers Lance and Marlow bowling very economically to mount the pressure on their batsmen.”

The coach extended special thanks to BNCC’s Promotion League players, who went to Kempton to support the Premier XI, after crushing a poor Duduza side in their clash at Willowmoore Park.

“This shows the good spirit in the squad,” van Lingen said.

At Willowmoore, Benoni skipper Ryan Pfeifer won the toss and sent Duduza, who arrived with only nine players, in to bat.

They were soon in trouble at nine for three, before Gordon Mnguni and Bongane Nhlapo, who both scored 27, steadied the innings, but the home side were eventually all out for a meagre 86 in the 23rd over.

Pacemen Jaco Kruger returned remarkable figures of 4/13 in six overs – his first over going for nine – and Shawn Wessels (2/21 in five overs) shone with the ball for Northerns.

In reply, Benoni lost an early wicket, but were seldom troubled thereafter, as opener Vaughn Humphrey – Lance’s younger brother – smashed 26 off 18 balls, number three bat Pfeifer contributed a leisurely 33 and Stiaan Jordaan was there at the end on 10, as the visitors raced to 88 for four in the 19th over, for a deserved bonus point win.

BNCC’s Premier XI will host Tembisa, while the Promotion team visits Boksburg, on Sunday, December 1.

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