Harpenden Bjorn again

Harps suffer eight wicket defeat

HCPL Division One

Harpenden 51 Henley 54-2

Henley won by eight wickets

THE only thing consistent about Harpenden’s batting order at the moment is their inconsistency.

With a huge nine wicket win against Oxford last week there was no indication of the dire capitulation to come against Henley on Saturday that resulted in an all out total of a paltry 51 in an excruciating 35.2 overs.

The Harpenden scores read like the dialling tone for Bermuda as, by their own admission, batsmen merrily fell to shots either poorly selected or badly executed.

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Bjorn Mordt (17.2-10-18-6) ended with figures that may have flattered him slightly but told a sorry story on a day when batting was far from impossible.

Ben Frazer has seen it all before and said: “The ball swung but it wasn’t at any great pace and we have to admit that we batted badly. We played too many shots and people got themselves out.

“Henley took full advantage and we have to take this on the chin as we didn’t do ourselves any justice. We are a pretty young side and there’s plenty of twists in this league and sometimes you can get taken down by a good team.

“We had a decent chat afterwards to assess what went wrong and where we want to go from here.”

Henley cruised to victory by eight wickets in just 9.5 overs as a chastened Harpenden side made it back in time to watch their 2nd XI counterparts embark on their run chase against Northwood CC.

Harpenden are now fifth in the HCPL table having been overtaken by Welwyn GC who have won four in a row.

This weekend Harpenden face Bishop’s Stortford at home and whilst Stortford are in eighth place they are only 20 points behind Nick Lamb’s side.

Harpenden II have got themselves in to a certain amount of relegation trouble in Division Two but if a comfortably sized, female chanteuse had tried to begin warming up on Saturday then she was certainly not invited to sing.

With only a single win so far going back to the second weekend of the season, Harpenden finally put together a commanding performance to not only soundly beat Northwood by nine wickets but to all but eliminate the points gap between the two teams on the very threshold of the relegation places.

With three weeks left of the season Harpenden and Northwood could now be locked in a virtual play-off with every bonus point crucial.

The turning point of the league fixture on Harpenden Common was the introduction of the home side’s spin attack as they combined to produce a fine joint spell of orthodox off and left-arm spin. Skipper Richard Darwin (16-5-23-3) and 16-year-old Jack Doyle (12.5-2-24-3) brought scoring to a virtual standstill as they choked off the Northwood batting line up reducing them from 64-1 to 81-7.

In another measure of the quality of the display in the field, Harpenden had three run outs including a Doyle one-handed pick-up, pirouette and throw off his own bowling.

Northwood limped to 118 all out in 49.5 overs but Harpenden well remembered that the last two matches between the sides have ended as ties.

This time there was no mistake as Mark Fettes (62* in 91 balls) and David Whiteley (36* in 78) saw their side home to a cheering crowd with an unbeaten partnership of 98.

Darwin enthused: “I thought we were excellent today and showed what a good side we are when we apply ourselves in all aspects of the game.

“There should be real desire to get us out of the trouble we’re in and I’m looking to everyone to put in that level of performance. Jack Doyle bowled a fantastic spell of off-spin and David Whiteley with Mark Fettes built a superb partnership for us.”

Harpenden III have been facing the final curtain for weeks now. Whilst they may have a few regrets the reality has been that runs on the board have been far too hard to come by for Simon Wade’s men.

A familiar tale of being 49 all out to Bishop’s Stortford II led to a resounding defeat by 10 wickets with little comfort to be had by the statistics scratched in to the scorebook.

The III’s will look to recover their voice in time for next season.

Sam Jones (41 & 15.2-6-32-8) continues to have a remarkable comeback from injury as his Harpenden IV team beat Chipperfield Clarendon III by 121 runs in the clash of Division Seven’s bottom two sides. Michael Hughes (69) has handed back the captaincy reins to Jones and with Bryn Luffman (33) Harpenden made a useful 218 all out in 44.4 overs. Jones then grabbed the ball and reduced Chipperfield’s innings to rubble with the first nine wickets all falling to catches including five grabs behind the stumps for Luffman in a terrific display of glovework.

Man of the Match for Harpenden V was Neil Mackey (12-3-26-5) as he helped to defeat Stevenage V who were bowled out for 77 to lose by 71 runs. This time Harpenden held eight outfield catches to demonstrate that good fielding can never be underestimated.