Gallery: Harpenden hand Radlett advantage in play-off chase
- Credit: Archant
Harpenden’s chances of securing home advantage in the play-offs took a hit on Saturday with a 74-run loss to Radlett.
With five games of the regular season left, Nick Lamb’s side are 36 points off second-placed Radlett and a further seven off leaders Welwyn Garden City.
In the Saracens Herts Premier Division format the top four teams will enter a play-off, with the top two benefitted from a home tie, to determine the inaugural winner of the league.
Despite the slip-up, Harpenden look certain to punch their ticket into the play-offs, but they will need an improved batting performance if they are to stand a chance of lifting the title.
Too often on Saturday the batsmen faltered after promising starts, and the loss was made all the more disappointing after the bowling attack had restricted the run-rate manfully after being asking to field first.
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Will Jones, opening the bowling with Simon White, struck first to remove Kabir Toor for three but was then frustrated as Radlett’s Fraser Crawford and Jono McLean put on a 79-run stand for the second wicket.
Harpenden wrestled back control though by taking two wickets in three balls. McLean (29) was the next to go, run out by Wightman, followed by Crawford (51), who was caught by Lamb off Wightman.
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The introduction of off-spinners Wightman and Ben Frazer was a masterstroke by Lamb as the pair strangled the run-rate, which never rose above four. In fact, Shane Burger (33) and Matt Creese (42) added less than 80 runs in the next 24 overs.
Wightman (2-55) and Frazer (2-61), who bowled an unbroken spell of 36 overs, were rewarded for their toil with three wickets but it was the re-introduction of Jones (2-33) and Lamb’s 10-ball spell, which yielded two wickets, that finished Radlett’s innings for just 203.
Chasing a small total, Harpenden made a statement of intent in the very first over as Gregg Cooper hit Ben Lederman for 13 runs. And when Ben Frazer fended off his first ball from Stuart Browne and cracked the next one for six, it seemed Harpenden were on their way to victory.
However, with the very next ball Browne had his man as the ball looped off the shoulder of Frazer’s bat and landed gratefully in Hugh McDowell’s hands.
Cooper (13) lasted two more overs before he was trapped LBW by Browne, whose slow-medium pace seam then accounted for James Latham (13).
Dan Blacktopp (3) made a watchful start before he was caught and bowled by Creese. At the other end, Pankhurst played the ball through to the boundary, but he departed in similar fashion to Frazer. Having smashed a six, the next ball kept low and came off the toe of his bat, presenting Creese with a catch low to his right, which he took.
Nick Lamb (1) faced 17 balls before he was caught as Harpenden slumped to 57-6.
If not for some late hitting from Jones (18), Alex Spencer (25) and White (22), the innings could have been over well before it did in the 42nd over but it wasn’t enough as handed advantage in to race for a home tie in the play-offs to Radlett and WGC.