Ice cool wicketkeeper Eitan Litvin played two crucial innings in succession as Harrogate produced a notable turning point in their season over the weekend.
Harrogate battled back from a mid-order collapse to beat long-term Yorkshire League rivals York by one wicket at St George’s Road on Saturday.
George Ross’ men then progressed past Sheffield Collegiate by a mere 22 runs in the League Cup second round on Bank Holiday Monday.
Litvin, a Yorkshire youth prospect who signed for Harrogate from New Rover in the summer, scored a vital knock of 20 at the death against York before adding 22 to lead ‘Gate up to a winning mark of 236 in Sheffield.
“We have nicknamed him the iceman, he is emotionless on the pitch,” said his captain Ross.
“There has been some big boots to fill in the keeping role at such a huge club and good standard but he has come in a done really well.
“He’s got a good cricketing head on him and has showed them with the way he batted.
“They were two vital innings that have helped us to win two big games.”
York have held the upper hand over Harrogate in the Yorkshire League in recent seasons.
But the national champions were put on the back foot early at St George’s Road as Tom Geeson Brown removed the dangerous Duncan Snell for one. Ben Coad and David Foster took two more scalps to restrict York to 90-5, and the visitors could only scramble up to 167/9 at the close.
Harrogate cruised to 76/1 with Kiwi Dion Sanson scoring 68 but wickets tumbled, and at 117/7, victory looked out of sight.
Coad and Litvin (both 20) then shared a 34-run partnership to see off spinners Tom Pringle and Daniel Woods (4/29) before Geeson-Brown hit the winning runs with the last pair at the crease.
Ross said: “It was a huge win and epitomised by the way we celebrated and the way we capped victory.
“If we had played that game two years ago, we would have lost it but we showed that grit and team spirit where there were points where we thought we had lost it.
“Ben and Eitan batted really maturely. To do that under so much pressure was awesome and shows we have a really good set of lads.”
‘Gate required another lower order bail out against Collegiate on Monday as they doubled the score from 118/5 thanks to Geeson-Brown’s unbeaten 35 and 22 from George Ellaby and Litvin.
Sheffield started strongly to reach 94/1 in reply before Jonny Tattersall (3/39) trapped Billy Root, brother of England’s Joe, leg before on 44 to swing the momentum towards ‘Gate.
“This is a big turning point in the season for me, knowing I have got a great team spirit in the side,” Ross added.
“Monday was another performance that really epitomised coming together as a tight knit team.
“We are proving to be a really good team in the cup competitions.”
Ross has few selection dilemmas ahead of Saturday’s clash at top of the table Sheriff Hutton Bridge, who are unbeaten.
Litvin is unavailable due to school commitments and will be replaced by Andy Hawkswell.