Blacktopp earns Harpenden a draw with Hemel

Harpenden's Dan Blacktopp bats for Hertfordshire

Harpenden's Dan Blacktopp bats for Hertfordshire - Credit: Archant

Harpenden needed a knock of 77 from Dan Blacktopp to earn a draw against lowly Hemel Hempstead Town in the Saracens Herts League.

Hemel have been the division’s whipping boys so far this year, losing seven of their nine games, but they managed to claim a result on Saturday thanks to a fantastic outing for the lower order.

Alistair Leighton hit 48 from number six and Brad Finch and Jack Doodson both scored 36 as the lower and tail orders added 157 runs before the innings closed on 247-8.

Harpenden started the chase confidently, with Blacktopp putting them on track to keep pace with league leaders Radlett, but they didn’t get the production from the lower order that Hemel did and it took an unbeaten 26 from Alex Randell just to earn a draw.

It was a disappointing result for Harpenden, who are 20 points behind Radlett, especially after Will Jones had handed them to initiative.

Jones was unplayable on Saturday, picking up six wickets and seven maidens in his 26 overs. He made the first breakthrough, finding the edge of Hemish Ilangaratne’s bat in the 11th over before removing Sam Jenkinson and Vibhor Yadav in consecutive balls as Hemel reached 42-3.

Ben Frazer’s first wicket dismissed Chris Blunt for 19 and, in the 36th over, he removed the danger man, opener Brett Penny, who had anchored the innings, for 44.

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At 117-5 and with Penny back in the pavilion, Harpenden looked set to restrict Hemel to a low score. They didn’t count on the lower order finding runs and, instead of chasing a sub-215 score, were set the task of making 248 runs to win.

It was a target they came mighty close to surpassing thanks to a 39-run partnership between openers Gregg Cooper and Scott Galloway and 71 from Blacktopp and Cooper.

Jake Pankhurst added a quick 20 before he was stumped by Leighton and Blacktopp was trapped LBW by Penny having got Harpenden to 179-5 in 36 overs.

With 69 runs needed from 19 overs, Harpenden just had to keep the scoreboard ticking over. However, Jones holed out to Jenkinson for 17 in between Simon White’s two-run stay and Nick Lamb’s five-ball duck.

Randell and Richard Darwin were inching the visitors closer to victory, scoring 37 for the ninth wicket, until Darwin was bowled by Finch and the bowlers shut-down Harpenden’s offence to earn a draw.